The Big Business of Airline Seats

Airlines are spending big upgrading airline seats. Airline seats were a $2.6 billion market in 2022.
March 29, 2024
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In recent years, airlines have seen a willingness from passengers to purchase more premium seats as they seek privacy, storage, productivity, and comfort, per CNBC.

As a result, airlines are spending big upgrading airline seats:

  • Delta rolled out the airline’s newest First Class seat on select Boeing 737-800 airplanes in Jan. 2024 – the seats aim to give passengers more comfort, privacy, additional stowage space for personal items, and a sturdier tray table.
  • United unveiled a new First Class seat on 200-narrow body planes for domestic flights in July 2023 – the seat’s upgrades included three kinds of wireless charging and winged headrests.
  • JetBlue revamped its Mint cabin seats in Feb. 2021 – adding a sliding door to try to win over trans-Atlantic customers.

Airline seats are a big business. Airline seats were a $2.6 billion market in 2022 and accounted for 46% of what airlines spent on the interiors of their planes, per AeroDynamic advisory.

Airlines are selling these premium seats to drive revenue growth and profits. Premium airline seats are accounted for under ancillary revenue on the Income Statement and comprise the industry’s fastest-growing revenue segment. 

What’s next?

  • Airlines will reduce the number of economy seats, which still make up ~80% of the cabin, in favor of more seats in First Class, Business Class, and Premium Economy.
  • Airlines will experiment with various upgrades – bars, shower access, double-decker configurations, and more for longer international flights.
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