Airline group Star Alliance is conducting tests in Beijing this week on its new standardised economy class seats.
Economy class seats across the Star Alliance vary significantly, from the United Airlines economy class seats that United CEO Jeff Smisek called "unacceptable" in an Australian Business Traveller interview last year, to Air New Zealand's Skycouch "cuddle class" sofas we reviewed last month, to Lufthansa's new ultra-thin seats.
In a statement, Star Alliance said that it "aims to enhance passenger satisfaction and consistency of experience among its 27 members by standardizing economy class seats".
Air China, the People's Republic's flag carrier, is carrying out the seating research, and a special area has been set up in Beijing Capital International Airport to carry out the research, which involves 200 members of Air China's PhoenixMiles frequent flyer programme.
The participants have all flown at least four times on an Air China international flight, and for six hours or more on another Star Alliance carrier.
Tests are also being carried out in Germany, home to Star Alliance founding member Lufthansa, which also owns several other Star Alliance airlines under its Lufthansa Group umbrella company.
The choice of Germany as a testing location could signal a preference for thinner, lighter weight seats as seen on Lufthansa.
Lufthansa's latest styles have cut inches out of previous models, and at least some of those inches have been put towards more legroom for passengers. The seat-back pocket containing safety cards and the airline magazine is now higher up, behind the tray table.
At the ultralight end of the scale, the low cost carrier-focussed Acro Superlight seats are a potential option for short-distance flights.
For a brief flight, the tradeoff of a cheaper ticket and potentially more legroom might be worth a little less padding.
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.