When taking the Eurostar, I noticed the new model has seats that are harder than the old one, which is significantly less comfortable. I couldn't notice if the same happened to airplane seats (it's harder to compare old and new seats in the same way, due to greater variety), but I wonder if there are reasons other than, say, cheaper cost. Is it better for maintenance? Do studies indicate that harder seats lead to people going to the food car more often? Safety issues? Could they be better for blood circulation?

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    Cheaper cost and easier maintenance I'd guess as the main reasons. Unfortunately this seems to be the way these days, with train seats on a rapid decline in comfort. Just try out the "ironing board" seats they have on Gatwick Express and some other medium-distance trains - awful. Compare that to the super-thick padding of seats from BR days, or even more recent seats from the early-2000s. Some people DO genuinely find hard seats more comfortable, though.
    – Muzer
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 15:44
  • It's happening to airplane seats too. At least for the newer seats on United's domestic US fleet :( I would rather be in an old, cracked seat, that looks worse but feels comfortable compared to their new ones.
    – CactusCake
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 21:42
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    Squishy seats tend to be absorbent like a sponge, which isn't fun if someone spills a drink or throws up. I suspect that's the reason.
    – ceejayoz
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 23:29
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    Funny that I just came by this quote, but I just came home from a trip to Paris and I actually liked the new seats. But I guess it is just a matter of taste. Anyway, they will probably end up like the old ones Commented May 1, 2017 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


A number of new UK trains have thinner padding on new seats in order to increase legroom - people are taller now on average and need more legroom, but the trains aren't getting any bigger, so they can get two or three centimetres by making the padding on the seats thinner.

I don't know if this is Eurostar's reason, but it is the official explanation for the thinner padding on the new Thameslink trains ("class 700") compared to the old ones ("class 319").


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