Comfort with 28 inches of legroom

Learning to sleep while standing

LONDON, U.K. -- Airlines are scrambling to capture the lucrative trade of the transcontinental flyer. To do this, some carriers are increasing legroom between seats in their economy class sections and adding fully flat reclining seats in first-class. United Airlines, for instance, launched "UnitedPS," which features reconfigured Boeing 757-200s with 12 lie-flat first class seats with a pitch (i.e., the distance between seats) of 68 inches. Other airlines are following suit.

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Britannia Airways, on the other hand, is taking a different approach to helping its passengers cope with long-haul travel. Miles Fenderwaller, spokesperson for Britannia Airways, told reporters recently, "Our airline intends to be a serious competitor in the transcontinental market and will not take the issue of sleeping on airplanes lying down."

Indeed, unlike United, Britannia is keeping the seats bolted where they are and teaching its flyers to get along in the space allotted to them. The airline has contracted with the world-renown contortionist Melinda Babarolini, to develop a passenger training program that will incorporate many of the exercises that she and her sisters use in their acts when touring with circuses across Europe.

"By helping them learn to sleep in cramped and awkward positions," says Fenderwaller, "Britannia hopes to deliver our passengers to their destinations a little more relaxed, a little more refreshed, and a whole lot looser."

According to the Aviation Health institute, Britannia Airways flies some of the most crowded planes in the sky with a seat pitch of only 28 inches. By teaching its passengers to relax in a confined spaces, the airline hopes to increase revenue while avoiding suits from passengers who develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT)—a particular problem for airlines in the UK.

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