Flat-bed seats should be a more affordable option for long flights

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Dear readers of Canada and U.S (or those who are often on long flights worldwide)

Flight fares are insanely expensive today, especially when you seek for seats that simply allow you to lie flat for comfort/health reasons. For example, a business class seat for Toronto-Seoul round-trip can cost you more than 4,500 Canadian dollars at minimum and it can go higher than $6,000 when its economy class seat costs about $1,500. The same is true for many other airlines today. Many of us, however, may only need the flat-bed seats for comfort and health reasons rather than for a prestigious experience (e.g. expensive foods, beverages, and lounge experience).

Although the risk is small, prolonged sitting on a cramped plane can sometimes trigger deep vein thrombosis (DVT; blood clots) which can pose major health risks, such as pulmonary embolism. The risks are higher if you are older women who smoke, pregnant, have personal/family history, on hormone therapy, or have active cancer.

Furthermore, being able to lie flat can reduce painful pressure on your lower back and such fact may have important health implications in those of us with mechanical low back pain. In fact, it is reported that the lifetime prevalence of mechanical low back pain can be as high as 60-80% in certain countries, such as U.S. Therefore, prolonged upright sitting can be unhealthy and excruciating, negatively impacting our flight experiences.

We ask that airline companies will listen to our voices of concern and understand the fact that sitting in an upright position in cramped space for a long period of time may be unsafe and inhumane.  Such option of being able to lie flat (or at least be able to recline further) should not be a choice of luxury but must become more universal and accessible to all passengers. One possible solution is to significantly decrease the fares of business class seats. Another potential solution is to introduce change to the current seating arrangement such that jetliners of the next generation will be equipped with significantly more flat seats or more reclined seats with more leg room, while omitting unnecessary costs associated with 'prestige.' We demand that our future flight experience will be a healthy and pleasant one that is not limited by unreasonably expensive flight fares.

Thank you for reading this message.  

Trevor Changgun Lee (Medical student at the University of Toronto)