What is an Airplane Cabin?

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  • Written By: Josie Myers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2019
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An airplane cabin is the area that contains passengers during flight. In a large commercial airplane, they generally contain rows of seats with isles so passengers can walk to and from the rest room, and the flight crew can transport needed items. In a private plane, the cabin can look more like a living room, with bench seats, tables and various specialty items along with the required belted seats and safety features. Both versions usually contain features for entertainment, like television sets and radio stations.

An airplane cabin must be pressurized in order to be comfortable for humans. Human bodies feel normal when the air pressure around them is approximately 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi), the amount felt at sea level. Commercial planes fly about 30,000 feet above sea level, where the average air pressure is about 4.3 psi. In order to raise the cabin to a comfortable level of pressure, high-pressure air is poured into the cabin area, usually recycled from the compression stage of the jet engine functions.


The cabin of a large plane is usually arranged with various classes of passengers divided by curtains. The front-most portion of the cabin is "First Class" and includes services like complimentary alcoholic beverages and extra room on all sides. Following is "Business Class" with many of the same features, but usually slightly less room on all sides. Following behind is Premium Economy with only slightly more leg room than the final division, Economy, which is sometimes called Coach. The galley and seating for the flight attendants are most often found in the back of the airplane behind Economy.

Safety is a priority in an airplane cabin. Cabins are outfitted with various materials and features to increase the passenger safety, particularly in case of an emergency. Videos are shown right before takeoff to inform and teach passengers about the safety features in the cabin, and their proper use. Generally, seats feature a flotation device in case of a water landing, and individual oxygen masks are stored in the ceiling area that drop down during an emergency. Certain areas of the cabin feature break away doors and inflatable slides for escape.

Seats are an important part of any airplane cabin, since passengers are required to sit, and be restrained during takeoff and landing, as well as when encountering turbulence or emergency situations. Comfort is certainly a factor in airplane cabin seat design, but safety is once again the greatest priority. During several high profile crashes, deaths occurred not from impact, but from seats that came loose from the cabin floor during impact. Passengers who were strapped into seats were thrown from the cabin, and perished as a result. Redesign following these crashes made seats safer, with a special flexible metal leg and attachment strip on the floor of the cabin. This allows for some spring in the seat on impact, and keeps it attached to the cabin.


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Post 4

@Laotionne - I agree with you when you say you would rather be safe than comfortable on an airplane, but I think we should be able to have both safety and comfort. Besides, there have been some studies completed that indicated that the tight quarters of airplane seats actually contribute to poor blood circulation and blood clots. How safe is that?

Post 3

I know people who fly regularly complain about planes being too small, and there not being enough room to spread out and get comfortable. I guess this is true enough, but would you rather have more space or be safer? I was happy to read that safety is the chief concern when airplane manufacturers are building airplane cabins.

Post 2

@Feryll - Unlike you, I was not surprised that the seats in the airplane cabins weren't able to stay intact during a plane crash. Airplane designers and builders make mistakes and miscalculations all of the time.

You would think they would work out most of the kinks during testing, and maybe they do, but there are still some things they don't get right. Eventually, these mistakes will come to the light and you just hope no one has to die because of these errors.

Post 1

Was anyone else as surprised as I was to read in the final paragraph of this article that people sitting in an airplane cabin during a crash survived the impact of the crash, but were killed because the seats were not designed to hold up to the impact, and they came loose from the floor?

I'm not saying I could have designed anything better, and I am not placing blame on anyone. However, how devastating must this have been for family members and friends of the people who died to find out after the crash?

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