A couple of recent topics have gotten me thinking of late. I have heard some posters here complaining that they would not want to take a long transcontinental flight on something like a 737 or an international flight to Europe on a 757 due to the cramped nature of the planes in coach vs. a widebody. But, as far as I can recall, the cabin width on the narrow body Boeing products (727, 737, 757) is the same as the classic 707 and all planes have the 6 across seating. In the case of Douglas products (DC-9, MD
-80-90, 717), they for the most part have 5 across seating which is like what the DC-8s had in coach as far as I can recall.
In years past, 707s and DC-8s were all that there was in pure jets to get somebody from point A to B, be it cross country or international (Atlantic or Pacific). So in that case, a flight on an NG
737 from say Newark to Seattle wouldn't be that much different from a 707 flight from four decades earlier and the same goes for a 757 heading to London from the US.
The widebody revolution didn't start until the 747 came on line and its main purpose for having as wide a body as it had was to carry more cargo later in life when the SSTs started flying passengers to their destinations. History showed that didn't happen quite as expected and the result is everything from the 767 and DC-10, A300 and 310, to the A330, 777s and 340 and culminating in the biggest of the big stuff, the 747-400 and the soon to fly A380. If the powers that be at Boeing in the 1960s had opted for what was essentially a double decker narrowbody design for the 747, we might not have the widebodies, or at least not as soon as we did.
Now I do realize that seat comfort isn't exactly what it used to be with seat pitch being shrunk down to about a 30" average. But seat width doesn't seem to have changed all that much on the narrowbodies since there really isn't that much of a benefit to it (wider aisle for the beverage cart perhaps?). If I am incorrect in my thinking please let me know on the seat width situation. But, have the widebodies made us spoiled for them? Is it really that big a concern to spend a 5 to 9 hour trip on a narrowbody airliner verses a widebody going to the same destination?