MONTCLAIR, N.J. – In a survey conducted by SpineUniverse.com during the summer of 2008, 88% of people who had flown in North America in the last year reported that they had back or neck pain–or both–after a typical flight on United, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, or any of the other major carriers.
With a margin of error at +/-5%, the study reveals that a typical traveler is willing to go out of pocket for a more spine-friendly seat. 74% said they’d pay an extra fee for a special seat that doesn’t give them back or neck pain.
And how much more are almost three-fourths of all airlines travelers willing to pay for the extra comfort? SpineUniverse says these travelers who suffer the most are willing to pay up to $50 more; 20% would pay up to $100 more.
Regarding the survey, SpineUniverse Director of Marketing Annelise Catanzaro said, “We asked very specific questions regarding the comfort level of passengers on flights within North America. We found that the lumbar support–or lack of it–and the headrests on airplane seats make it very difficult for back and neck pain sufferers to enjoy flying.”
Fares are going up and so are traveler frustration levels. If airlines were to offer seats with better lumbar support, back pain sufferers would gladly pay extra for that comfort. They may have sticker shock at the price of in-flight peanuts or be appalled at the charge for checking a bag, but when it comes to taking care of their spines, travelers want the airlines to know: this is one extra fee you can charge.
Will the airlines listen? It is a new idea, of course, and there are a lot of details to consider: Would these seats take up more room? Would the airlines re-style an existing aircraft or blueprint a design for a new aircraft? Economics and the bottom line would certainly be the driving force in that huge decision.
Until airlines get more spine-friendly seats, SpineUniverse offers flight tips to help those with back and neck pain–or those who’ve developed a bout of back or neck pain thanks to an airplane seat.
Alan Hedge, PhD, CPE, professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, and member of the SpineUniverse Editorial Board, says, “Even if airlines don’t start using seats designed specifically for back and neck pain sufferers, there are some easy ways you can take care of your back and neck on a flight.
“If you are a neck pain sufferer, you can bring an inflatable air pillow with you. It won’t take up much room in your carry-on and it will provide good support for your head and neck while flying.
“For back pain sufferers, try rolling a pillow, blanket, or sweater into a lower back support. It’s best if you can have one support on each side of your back.”