Passengers are increasingly researching seat comfort prior to booking long-haul flights and are prepared to pay extra for the best economy seating, according to a survey.
Fifty-four per cent of passengers told Airbus researchers that seat comfort is of critical importance.
And 41 per cent said they would pay more within economy, while five per cent would consider upgrading in search of comfort.
Thirty-four per cent claimed they now use specialist websites to work out the "true seat value" prior to booking flights, the researchers said.
The top three causes of discomfort on long-haul flights are lack of sleeping comfort, back pain and leg ache.
Seats that are too narrow also have a negative impact on passengers' post-flight, with tiredness and sore muscles being the most common complaints.
Kevin Keniston, Airbus' head of passenger comfort, said: "Passengers are acutely aware of inflight comfort and this impacts purchase decisions. Our research reveals that almost half of economy passengers are prepared to pay more in order to get greater comfort in economy.
"Airlines are already responding by differentiating their seat offerings within classes and placing a price premium on more comfortable seat options - such as aisle, front row or emergency exit seats.
"Seat width however is a key determinant of comfort and as such passengers are increasingly investing time and money to avoid enduring a 17-inch crusher seat on a full-service, long-haul flight."
Last month, Airbus called on the aviation industry to set a minimum 18-inch seat width (see news, October 28).