I don't have a lot of cushion on my derriere these days (although I'm going to work hard to change that over the holidays...more stuffing please!). So, when I saw the new slim seat being fitted to Lufthansa's short- and medium-haul fleet, I must admit I cringed just a little bit and wondered whether I might need to bring a pillow for my behind on my next Lufthansa A320 family/Boeing 737 flight.
But the seat's designer, Recaro, insists that while the new seat is 30% lighter than the previous model - a feat accomplished by implementing "high-tech German engineering", naturally - the firm did not sacrifice "quality and passenger comfort".
Indeed, Recaro claims it has "vastly improved the comfort and ergonomic features" of the so-called BL3520 seat, even though the average seat pitch has been reduced from 32in to 30in, enabling Lufthansa to squeeze up to an additional two seat rows into each aircraft.
Here's how Recaro describes the changes:
"Instead of conventional foam, an innovative netting material is integrated into the backrest core to significantly reduce thickness. The result is a slimmer backrest profile that is also much lighter. New materials are also used in the seat divider, which is made from a modern, lightweight alloy.
"The BL3520 is not only lighter. One of the key features of the new seat is that it offers passengers more living space. This is made possible by patented Recaro solutions, including a higher literature pocket positioned above the tray table instead of in the knee area. This gives passengers more room even when the seat pitch is reduced."
Significantly, for this tall momma, Recaro says: "Even tall passengers do not have to worry about feeling cramped. In the severe competition between airlines, comfort plays a strategic role."
Lufthansa has ordered 32,000 seats to be installed across its A320 family and Boeing 737-300/500 aircraft by the end of 2011. Additionally, eight new A320-family aircraft are to be delivered with the future interior in 2012. The retrofit programme will cost approximately €170 million ($225 million), including other upgrades such as LED lighting, cosmetic cabin changes and new, more voluminous overhead bins for the 737s, according to the carrier.
Incidentally, Lufthansa is also studying options for bringing in-flight connectivity to these aircraft, giving the man below all the more reason to smile!