David Owen’s fascinating New Yorker piece on airline seating included these tidbits.

“seat-back video screens and the hard frames that surround them pose a safety challenge, partly because of the potential for injuries caused by head strikes, and partly because the computers and the electrical systems that serve them have to be both fireproof and fully isolated from the plane’s—so that crossed wires in somebody’s seat don’t allow a ten-year-old playing a video game to suddenly take control of the cockpit. Largely as a result, in-flight entertainment systems are almost unbelievably expensive,” costing about $10,000 apiece.

And, “No design change is made casually, because even small ones can affect operating costs. Gulf Air, which is based in Bahrain, reduced its annual fuel bill by a hundred and twenty thousand dollars a few years ago by using slightly thinner leather in the upholstery of its first-class seats—a change that involved just sixteen seats on fifteen planes.”

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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