#PaxEx TV: Does the aircraft seat crunch create an unsafe condition?


No matter how airlines spin it, we know that more seats equals less living space for those of us who fly in regular economy class. But are there safety implications to squeezing more seats into aircraft? And should regulators require some real-life evacuation testing versus simulation tests when certifying the most dense new layouts? RGN’s Mary Kirby and John Walton discuss the issue on the latest episode of #PaxEx TV.


Host: Mary Kirby @RunwayGirl
Producer: Mary Kirby @RunwayGirl
Co-Host: John Walton @thatjohn 


  1. Good Afternoon Mary and John,

    Excellent broadcast regarding safety and one I have been banging the drum about, albeit predominately regarding safety and wheelchair bound passengers. Those in passenger airline safety wake up in the morning with one aim in their working life, when safety is 98% they want to get that to 99% and that is to be applauded.

    Imagine if you will an evacuation in progress, sat next to you is a friend, family member perhaps your mother or father who is fully reliant on a wheelchair to function in life. Would you leave them and as a priority just evacuate yourself, as that is what you are supposed to do – I don’t think you would – so whilst you are making every effort to lift and manhandle your Mother, Father, friend etc. off the aircraft you will be delaying considerably all those passengers behind you, depending on your seat this could be well over one hundred. Lifting an adult out of an already tight space, then (somehow) get them down the aisle is tantamount to an Olympic sport of herculean strength and aptitude for the ordinary person.

    I agree with your observations on the seat squeezing, the speed of evacuation will inevitably be reduced for most ‘typical’ able bodied passengers, so add to that the already challenge of disabled (PRM’s). I have the support here of the UK government, post-election they will be exploring to challenge the airlines as I am sure will congress – as you quite rightly point out. Fatalities with disabled passengers who must live their life in a wheelchair have been close, the manhandling and indignity are all too much for most. Surely no one wants this archaic approach to these people anymore, our Veterans, Elderly, Paralympic and Invictus athletes etc. all deserve better. There is a very active campaign here in the UK and also globally to resolve this and it is growing substantially, we want to change this and bring airlines into the current 2017 way of thinking.

    I would like to enlighten those who are in airline safety. Whilst you let the airline’s explore squeezing seats and also allow them to treat disabled passengers without any dignity, they are doing a very good job of eroding your once superb safety record at an alarming rate. You may indeed wake up wanting to improve safety – but you are simply sleepwalking.

    Christopher Wood

    • AGS

      Absolutely agree. And, although pregnancy isn’t a disability, I can attest that I move much more slowly than your average crew member or gym member (I’m on pregnancy #4 right now, and have every intention to keep on flying). I also often fly with 3 small children. Safety testing and standards on egress need to account for the diversity of those in the cabin.

  2. AndyB

    What about the brace position and the impact on survivability and injuries in incidents such as hard landings and survivable crashes? Having seats so close together makes it difficult to bend low enough in brace, and with seats so close together there is a risk of increased injury and domino type effects to vastly increase injuries

  3. AGS

    Re: passenger experience in general. Until airlines start calling us “customers” instead of “passengers” we won’t see any real improvement in treatment.