American Airlines is planning to fit in more seats on new aircraft, reducing the amount of space that is between each row to 29 inches from 31 inches in the economy sections of the plane.
This plan, which will be introduced on the new Boeing 737 Max planes, would make the airline the first legacy carrier to edge closer to its low-cost competitors such as Spirit Airlines that already offers just 28 inches between its seats in economy.
The 737 Max from Boeing is the line’s next generation and a model that is commonly used for its domestic and nearby international destinations.
This fall the first four arrive and feature slimmer seats that reduce the depth of the seatback.
An airline spokesperson said that people put their focus on numbers, but seats that are well designed have been set up to be more space efficient and to improve the overall space for each passenger.
Thinner seats have quickly become the norm in the industry and while they might give back a certain amount of space, fliers have complained they are uncomfortable.
A travel blog author online said that airlines put in more seating through use of seats that have less padding so that cannot be more comfortable for passengers. It equates, said the blogger to less legroom and more uncomfortable seats.
During the early part of the 2000s, American Airlines advertised that it was an airline with more room across its coach area.
Instead, the industry has seen more success through selling seats that have extra legroom in the new cabins known as premium economy, cramming passengers who are the most cost sensitive into tighter seating at the back of the plane.
An industry publication said the lesson learned was just some passengers will pay for the seating, and most just want cheap, safe transportation.
Whether more carriers will follow suit remains unknown. Many expect that United will make a move that is similar given that its current president was until last year the American Airlines president.
On similar configurations in the 737 economy section, United offers spacing of 31 inches, Delta Air Lines between 31 and 32 inches and Southwest 33 inches.
One industry expert said that American could earn extra revenue, but risks losing some customers due to the passenger being uncomfortable.
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