Aircraft Manufacturer Offers Wider Airplane Seats

July 20, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. passenger (n.) 
[pas-uhn-jer] – a person who is traveling by airplane, car, train, ship, etc. and is not the person operating the mode of transportation.
Example: The passengers had their seatbelts on while their pilot was landing the airplane.

2. stress (v.) [stres] – to give importance to something
Example: The flight attendants stressed that passengers cannot smoke on the airplane.

3. overweight (adj.) [oh-ver-weyt] – weighing more than the normal or average weight
ExampleOverweight passengers may not be comfortable sitting in tight economy class seats.

4. touchy (adj.) [tuhch-ee] – describes something that might hurt people’s feelings
Example: Body weight may be a touchy subject especially to those who suffer from being overweight.

5. long-haul (adj.) [lawng-hawl, long-] – describes a journey of long distance
Example: She brought books to pass the time on her long-haul flight from Malaysia to England.

Read the text below.

Airlines may soon be offering wider economy class seats to customers.

European aircraft maker Airbus says airlines can now choose to add wider economy class seats on the new A320 passenger jets and offer these seats for an additional cost.  Airbus believes this option could be an extra source of income for airlines.

So far, only airlines in the US have showed interest in these seats. Skytrax, an airline research company, says wider economy class seats are important in the US because passenger sizes are generally bigger there.

But Airbus stresses that the wider seats are not just for overweight passengers. Other people, including mothers with small children and large football players, may be willing to pay extra for a wider seat.

Over the years, passenger size has been a touchy subject among travelers. Nearly 50% of British travelers who replied to a recent survey by UK travel website said it is only fair that passengers pay extra not only for excess luggage weight, but also for excess body weight.

Many passengers have complained that overweight passengers sitting next to them take up their space. This has led to some airlines advising overweight passengers to buy two seats if they cannot sit comfortably in one seat.

As such, asking passengers to buy a wider seat instead of two regular seats would be more convenient for airlines and would also be less embarrassing and less expensive for larger passengers.

Skytrax says seat comfort and quality of seats is especially important to customers in long-haul flights, whether in economy class, business class or first class. 

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that having wider seats on airplanes is a good idea? Why do you say so?
·         Should overweight people pay extra for body weight? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Apart from lack of comfort, what other kinds of problems can someone experience while travelling?
·         Do you think it is better to pay more money for extra comfort and convenience when travelling? Why or why not?  What comforts would like to have when travelling?


July 20, 2012