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A look at airline seats through the ages


The seat in which you travel often determines the comfort of the trip. When you're a passenger on a flight, legroom, space and cabin size are factors, but the seat itself ultimately sets the comfort level. How has the airline seat evolved over the ages to suit our comfort needs? Here's a look back at how far we've come.

Early airline seat design

Young business woman during plane flight
Young business woman during plane flight

It may seem odd now, but the passenger wasn't always an airline’s top priority. Historically, their main source of income was transporting post and other goods from one airport to another, rather than as a mode of transport for the general population. With this in mind, it’s unsurprising that the first airline passenger seat lacked many of the modern-day comforts we enjoy today.

The first passenger seat was a wicker chair on a Lawson Airliner in 1919. Wicker chairs were an airline seat of choice for the next decade, until in 1930 the Aluminium Company of America created a light metal passenger seat made of aluminium. To this day, most airline seats boast an aluminium frame.

With the shift from wicker to aluminium, cushions and seat covers became increasingly important to boost comfort. Rubber-covered foam seats became the norm from 1936 with the iconic Douglas DC-3 airliner.

Sleeping on a flight

Flying overnight or across time-zones introduced the need for seating that facilitated sleep. A reclining seat was introduced in 1929 with the Fokker F-32, before Pan Am introduced a 'sleeperette' in 1949. However, provisions for sleeping on board a plane have evolved in leaps and bounds since the turn of the 20th Century.

In 1989, both Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic launched new aircraft with fully reclining seats. British Airways introduced flat sleepers to first class in 1996, followed by business class seat beds in 2000. The evolution continued in 2007, with Singapore Airlines launching first class suites in their A380 with a standalone flat bed and leather chair.

Today, the type of plane and class in which you travel determines what you can expect by way of seat-size and legroom. And while airlines are largely focused on filling their planes with as many passengers as possible, the evolution of the airplane seat continues.

Luxury seating on private flights

The interior of bedroom of private business jet
The interior of bedroom of private business jet

While the seating on commercial flights is often limited by the amount of passengers needing to fit onboard, the focus of a private flight is on quality over quantity. Chartering a private aircraft gives a true insight into how far we’ve come since wicker chairs, with examples including:

  • The Airbus A319 CJ boasts VIP quarters with an office, lavatory, stand-up shower and bed; perfect for top executives who can't afford to lose time in the air.
  • The Gulfstream G550's interior has four distinct areas with vast multimedia resources. If you're travelling with a family, this will ensure the flight is part of the holiday and not just a means of getting there.
  • The Dassault Falcon 7X offers queen-sized beds; perfect for couples heading off on a romantic break.
  • The Bombardier Global XRS 6000's interior features leather sofas and flatscreen TVs for an inflight cinema experience.

If you’re looking to travel in comfort and luxury on your next trip, a private jet charter can cater to your every need. Speak to our team online or call us on + 44 (0)20 8339 8588 for more information or a personalised quote.

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