The airline legroom wars may finally be coming to an end.
Engineering firm B/E Aerospace has filed a patent for a “legroom adjustable” seat design that allows flight attendants to move a seat forward or back depending on the size of a passenger, reports the Telegraph.
The seats, which all have moveable wheels, sit on rail tracks lining the aircraft floor. If a taller man or woman is seated in front of a child, for example, the cabin crew will have the ability to move an occupant’s seat several inches back via smartphone or tablet, allowing for extra legroom.
But the new invention may lead to complications of its own. Passengers would be required to inform airlines of their height at check-in meaning some may fudge the numbers to secure more seat space.
Still the designers believe this configuration could revolutionize the current “one size fits all” model for modern air travel, which they see as outdated.
“While passengers come in many sizes, children, adolescents, adults, men, women and with large height differentials within these categories, seat spacing in the main cabin of passenger aircraft is generally uniform except at exit rows,” the designers stated in their patent application, submitted in November.
“The one size fits all seating arrangement can cause discomfort for tall passengers, while a child or relatively small adult may be seated in an identical seat at the seat pitch, with more than ample leg room and in relative comfort.”
A controversial device called the Knee Defender-- a set of detachable rubber grips that prevent passengers from reclining into the space of the user behind them-- caused a serious inflight incident that led to the grounding of a United Airlines flight in 2014. Several major U.S. carriers including Delta, United and American Airlines prohibit use of the device.
The legroom adjustable seat, however, leaves the final spatial arrangement to the discretion of crewmembers, not individual passengers.
“Even a relatively small incremental increase in seat spacing for the tall passengers can provide additional comfort with no loss of comfort to the much smaller passengers seated in front of the tall passengers,” B/E Aerospace said.