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Being able to recline airplane seats has been considered either a blessing or a curse among many passengers. Those who prefer reclining claim that it’s a more comfortable way to spend a flight, while those who are against it complain that it makes their flights much more uncomfortable. Some airlines offer what are known as pre-reclined seats as a way to compromise.


What Are Pre-reclined Seats?

Pre-reclined seats are fixed ones that passengers can’t adjust at all. These seats don’t force you to sit fully upright, but they also don’t allow you to lean back as far as you want. Pre-reclined seats are generally designed to lean back at an angle that’s roughly halfway between fully upright and completely reclined. This translates to a fixed recline angle of about 3 inches.


Why Are Airlines Offering Them?

The pre-reclined seat trend started back in 2006 when Allegiant Airlines made the switch to these seats. Over the years, pre-reclined seats have mainly been associated with low-cost airlines, such as Spirit Airlines, but British Airways recently announced that flights within Europe will soon have these seats as well. Why have airlines decided to make this change?


Pre-reclined seats provide passengers with a bit more space while also preventing clashes between those who recline and those who don’t recline. They also give airlines a way to fit a higher number of seats inside airplanes and are generally more cost-effective than installing and maintaining standard reclining seats. These seats are also more lightweight than reclining seats, which helps airlines save on fuel costs. Airlines see it as a win-win for themselves and passengers, but what do passengers think?


Advantages of Pre-reclined Seats

Pre-reclined seats are typically considered a positive change for passengers who aren’t fans of reclining seats. These seats provide these passengers with peace of mind during their flight. Those who struggle with legroom on flights don’t have to deal with the passenger in front of them taking up even more space by putting their seat back. Passengers also don’t have to cope with awkwardly trying to use their laptop or making sure water bottles and other items stay put when the person in front of them leans back into their tray. Since heated arguments and fights have broken out between passengers over the use of reclining seats, the switch to pre-reclined seats can help keep flights more peaceful.


Disadvantages of Pre-reclined Seats

With all of the advantages of pre-reclined seats, are there any drawbacks to them? Any disadvantages seem to come down to a matter of personal preference. Passengers who normally enjoy reclining their seat fully aren’t able to do so with fixed seats, which can make flights less comfortable for them. Pre-reclined seats also tend to go hand in hand with less space between seats overall. For example, Spirit Airlines changed to 28 inches in pitch when pre-reclined seats were added. The airline previously offered up to 30 inches of pitch with reclining seats. While this is less space between seats, passengers can count on not losing any additional space if the person in front of them decides to recline.


Pre-reclined seats aren’t the norm on most airplanes, but that could change down the line thanks to the comfort and peace of mind these seats offer passengers and the financial advantages for airlines.

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