The effects of seat width, load factor, and passenger demographics on airline passenger accommodation

Elizabeth L. Miller, Samuel M. Lapp, Matthew B. Parkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The objective of this work is to demonstrate a method for examining the competing effects of secular trends in body size, seat size and configuration, and the increased load factor of aeroplanes. The method uses statistical modelling and virtual fit testing to provide a flexible environment for exploring the impact of various parameters on passenger accommodation. A case study demonstrates the method by exploring the effect of seat width on the accommodation of US civilians (based on seated hip breadth). The case study demonstrates that recent trends of decreasing seat widths and increasing load factors lead to higher disaccommodation. Based on anthropometry and virtual fit, women are also shown to be disproportionately disaccommodated compared to men. Practitioner summary: Airlines are reducing seat width at the same time that individuals worldwide are getting larger. Flights are increasingly crowded, with load factor at a record high. This paper explores the effects of seat width on passenger accommodation under several scenarios involving load factor, demographics, and passenger seating allocation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-341
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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