Why Do Airplane Seats Not Have Lumbar Support?


If you’ve ever been on a long flight, you probably know the lower back pain that often comes along with it. Airplane seats aren’t the comfiest seats in the world, unless you pay for first-class, of course, so sometimes you need to prepare ahead of time. However, why do airplane seats not have lumbar support?

Airplane seats don’t have lumbar support because they add too much weight. While seats in business and first-class may offer lumbar support, it’s rare to see in the economy class, as many airlines are switching to the slimline seat style, which is a less bulky and, therefore, lighter version.

The rest of this article will discuss why airplane seats aren’t created with comfort in mind and various tips on preventing lower back pain when flying.

Why Are Airplane Seats Not Comfortable?

Although most people would assume that airplane seats are first made with comfort in mind, that’s typically not the case. While money will usually buy you more comfort on planes, the seats themselves differ depending on the class you travel in.

Airplane seats aren’t comfortable because most airlines try to fit as many seats as safely as possible. Therefore, comfort amenities are sacrificed to fit more seats, meaning more passengers. However, business and first-class seats are typically more comfortable than economy seats.

Many airlines have switched to “slimline” seating, especially in economy. I’ll go over what slimline seating consists of below.

What Is Slimline Seating on Airplanes?

Many airlines have chosen to add slimline seating to their economy sections, which many passengers have expressed displeasure with. However, is slimline seating that bad?

Slimline seating on airplanes has less padding in the back, is smaller than regular seats, and weighs less. Therefore, airlines can add more seats closer together. While they were designed to increase capacity without affecting comfort, many have complained about their discomfort.

While slimline seats allow more passengers on the plane, it often causes more discomfort. However, there are ways to prevent or ease the pain when flying, including bringing a small pillow with you for your back.

How Do You Prevent Lower Back Pain When Flying?

Lower back pain due to a lack of lumbar support is a common flying symptom. As most planes don’t offer lumbar support, many people leave long plane rides sore and in pain. However, is there a way to prevent this?

You can prevent lower back pain when flying by purchasing a first-class ticket for the more comfortable seats, bringing your own lumbar support, and choosing an aisle seat, so you have the option to get up and move around. Bringing pain medication along is also a good idea.

While you can’t always prevent back pain, especially on long plane rides, there are some steps you can take to ease the pain, both before and after the pain has begun. I’ll go over these in the next section.

Buy a First Class Ticket

While this might not be an option for most people, buying a first-class ticket will boost your level of comfort immensely. First-class seats offer more comfort all around, not only in the seats, but you also get more personal space.

If lower back pain is a severe issue for you, saving up for a first-class ticket might be your best option. However, it’s best to call the airline you plan to travel with to ensure you get the support you need while on the plane.

Bring Along a Pillow

There are many lumbar support pillows available online, most of which are easy to travel with. Therefore, bringing along your own pillow for lumbar support is an excellent option.

If you’re looking for a reliable lumbar support pillow, I recommend the Everlasting Comfort Lumbar Support Pillow (available on Amazon.com). This support pillow works to improve your posture when sitting and mimics your back’s natural contour, which offers extra comfort. 

This lumbar pillow is also easy to put on chairs, as it has straps that wrap around the back. However, this may not be the best idea on a plane. Despite this, the lumbar pillow will still support your back without strapping it to the chair. 

If you don’t want to bring your own pillow, you can also ask a flight attendant for a pillow to lean back against. Many airlines offer pillows and blankets to their passengers, especially if the flight is long, so they should provide you with one if you ask.

Sit in an Aisle Seat

Many people prefer aisle seats on planes because they can move around as much as they want. Sitting in the window or middle seat requires you to ask the person in the aisle seat to move so you can get up. 

Therefore, if you’re already on the aisle seat, you don’t have to bother other passengers.

When traveling, constant sitting is what often causes back problems. So, getting up and moving around every so often will help alleviate, and hopefully prevent, and back pain you may have.

Bring Along Pain Medication

If you get lower back pain often and there’s not much you can do to prevent it, it’s a good idea to bring along some pain medication. Once your back starts to hurt, it’s difficult to find any comfortable position to alleviate that pain.

You may want to speak with your doctor before traveling if you often have horrible back pain. Your doctor may be able to offer you advice on how to prevent your discomfort and maybe even stronger pain medicine.

Therefore, if you’re already in a lot of pain, having pain medication available will help make the rest of your plane ride much more bearable.

Final Thoughts

Airplane seats don’t typically have lumbar support because it adds more weight to the plane and increases the size of the seats themselves. 

So, when you have bulkier seats, you can’t put as many passengers on the plane. Therefore, many airlines choose to have thinner, less comfortable seats to seat as many passengers as possible. Although planes don’t have lumbar support, there are some things you can do to prevent lower back pain. 

These include:

  • Buying a first-class ticket.
  • Bringing a lumbar support pillow.
  • Sitting in an aisle seat.
  • Bringing along pain medication.

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