Airlines widen the middle seat but it could cost you

The interior of a Spirit Airlines Airbus A320. (Spirit Airlines)

The dreaded middle seat has gotten a bit of an upgrade on flights and it's working in the favor of airlines.

The carriers Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Air New Zealand, and Korean Air have been experimenting with adding an extra inch to widen the middle seat on planes. The implementation has been a success as comfort scores are improving among all passengers on flights with improved space, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Now that the upgrade has been shown to boost customer comfort and satisfaction, airlines may be looking into adding a premium to middle seats with extra room.

Acro Aircraft Seating formulated the design for wider middle seating on Airbus A220 and A320 narrow-body airplanes, which widens seats from 17 to 18 inches. The configuration is now being produced on 80 percent of all Acro deliveries.

A Spirit Airlines Airbus A319. (Spirit Airlines)

Spirit Airlines specifically took advantage of the opportunity to implement Acro seating since attempting, and succeeding, to boost its public reputation from bottom-tier to middle-of-the-pack. Spirit CEO Ted Christie told the Journal that the airline does plan to raise the cost of seats with added room in the near future.

The budget airline has the least amount of row depth in the industry—28 inches compares to an average 30 to 31—and has "pre-reclined" seats due to close proximity in front and behind.

Since experimenting with Acro seating, comfort scores for middle-seat passengers increased by 50%. Spirit Airlines now plans to implement widened middle-seats on all future deliveries.

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