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How to Turn a Mile-High Torture Chamber Into a Comfy Cabin

An Airbus executive reveals what designers are doing to make life in the air more tolerable.
Photographer: Getty Images

Regardless of how an airplane’s cabin irks you—no legroom, garbage Wi-Fi, scant overhead bin space—most of the experience is dictated by the carrier flying it. Aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE must satisfy their customers—and you are not their customer.

This isn’t to say that aircraft fleets are designed solely to pamper airline balance sheets. In most respects, new planes like the Airbus A350, Boeing 787, and Bombardier Inc.’s C Series are marvels of comfort compared with models from previous decades. The air is less arid, the windows larger (and likely to get larger), and storage space is used more efficiently.