I Know a Thing or Two about Airplane Seats

  • October 8, 2018
  • Scott
  • 0 Comments

Our domestic air carriers in the US are notorious for making coach increasingly uncomfortable.  It isn’t decreasing comfort it is increasing discomfort.  It isn’t enough that the food has gone downhill (I’m okay with that, because most airports have dramatically improved their food options), and that you’re paying for every checked bag (which has made carrying on a bag even more of a zoo).  Airlines have been relentlessly pursuing more “efficient” seating…

A recent Wall Street Journal article calls them out.  Scott McCartney invited each to sit in their own coach seats for the interview.  Scott is now my hero. And his name is Scott:

Have you ever been vacuum-packed into a shrunken coach seat wishing the airline CEO had to endure the same discomfort?

We did that for you, sort of. The Middle Seat asked the chief executives of the big three U.S. airlines to plop down in the back of one of their airplanes and explain why they think the skimpy confines of coach today are acceptable.

Two agreed. Delta CEO Ed Bastian, 6-foot-3, arranged for an interview on his company’s most recently reconfigured Boeing 777-200 in Atlanta. American CEO Doug Parker, also 6-foot-3, snuggled into a coach seat on a reconfigured 777-200 in a Dallas-Fort Worth airport hangar.

The article claims they both fit, but their knees were kissing distance from the seat in front of them.  Look, they’re both 6’3″ tall – so unless their legs are shorter than mine (I’m 5’11”), there’s no way.  My knees touch the seat in front of me on the seats described on each of these airlines.

Their message is that if you want more space, pay for it. But I think this is a good example of why airlines need some regulation for passenger “rights” – because the economics of airlines keep pushing a lower and lower grade of service to our flying public. Perhaps minimum standards are needed, or a taxing regime that makes smaller seats increasingly unprofitable.

And if these 30″ pitch seats are going to be a thing, airlines need to stop allowing them to recline – because there just isn’t enough room for the person behind them without also reclining.  As if everyone needs to recline like dominoes.

Just a word to the wise for travelers-  try not to put your seat back. They don’t recline very far anyway, and they only serve to make it impossible for the person behind you to sit comfortably, or work.  They will have, however, a very good view of the top of your head…

I wish the economics supported having a better quality service for domestic air travel. There are a few holdouts. Southwest used to be my least favorite airline for comfort, they’re probably now the best airline for a normal coach seat in the US – simply by holding the line, and watching while everyone else degrades the quality of their cabins.

Unfortunately I fear the same thing may be gradually happening to international travel, where this treatment is even less humane.

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