American Airlines To Cram More Seats Onto Aircraft

legroom plane
big-ashb, Flickr

As if squeezing into an economy-class seat wasn’t already a claustrophobe’s nightmare, American Airlines has announced plans to add even more seats to its planes, further encroaching on passenger legroom.

The carrier, which is trying to raise revenue following its merger with US Airways, will increase the number of economy class seats on its 737s and MD-80 fleet. The news came out after the airline’s VP of flight services made an announcement to the carrier’s flight attendants.

American Airlines says it doesn’t know exactly how many extra seats it will add, but airline consultant Michael Boyd told CNN that for the plan to be cost-effective, the airline would have to install at least 10 new seats in each aircraft. Adding what amounts to roughly two extra rows would mean taking 2.5 inches of legroom from each of the existing rows of seats.Freaking out yet? Well Boyd said passengers shouldn’t be too concerned at this stage. A slimmer seat design, along with changes to the bathroom and galley layout could save precious space. All up, he believes we might be left with about one inch less legroom once the new seats are installed. Still, it’s one inch too much for passengers who are already feeling the pinch.

Need More Legroom? Buy Some, Says Airline

leg room

Legroom in coach continues to be a big issue with air travelers who would love to stretch out like those lucky people in first class. Side-to-side room is also of interest as those flying on airlines without assigned seating hope no one sits next to them. Now, one airline has a way to make it all better.

Main Cabin Extra makes travel more comfortable by providing you with 4 to 6 inches of additional legroom and Group 1 boarding,” said an email I received from American Airlines encouraging me to pay a bit more for coach seats. That’s an extra fee they don’t have to talk me into either. On American Airlines 767-300, 757 and 777-300ER aircraft I have paid as little as $9 for the pleasure.

Added on up until the airport check-in cut-off time, prices range between $8 and $118 per flight and can be purchased when checking in for a flight through airport self-service machines, AA Reservations, and through select travel agencies.

Different airlines call it by a different name but it all adds up the same: more space.
Ask me to pay $20 for checking a bag (or up to $150 for an overweight bag), $50-$150 per ticket to make a change in plans or any one of a score of other fees and I simply won’t do it. Tell me I can stretch out for a few dollars and I am all for it.

“Airlines aren’t chasing volume anymore, they’re chasing the bottom line,” explains Mike Boyd, chairman of Boyd Group International, an Aviation consulting firm in Evergreen, Colorado, in a Fox News report.

Indeed, holiday airfare shoppers already know that the number of flights is down as airlines choose to fly full planes that generate more profit. Not all that long ago, three classes of seating were available and clearly defined. At the top was first class, followed by business class, then economy coach seating. Today, premium economy is coming more into focus as one of the best travel values available.

“Part of this is this premium economy thing. Business class has become the battleground,” added Boyd. “That went up and up in terms of perks but has become too expensive, so now we’ve gone back to introducing another class – we’ve gone full circle. And internationally, premium economy is what business class was 20 years ago.”

Personally, it surprises me that more travelers don’t choose this inexpensive travel option. There are a limited number of exit row or expanded economy seats available but I almost always find one for a small fee when checking in for a flight.

Another steal, perhaps the gold ring of travel values, is same-day upgrades to first class on the day of departure. Domestic flights are commonly $50 more; international flight upgrades to first class (complete with bragging rights that define one as a savvy air buyer) can be a couple hundred.


[Photo credit- Flickr user Fly For Fun]

Airline Madness Champion: Obese Passengers Who Take Up Two Seats

Airline Madness is Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances. You can catch up on all of the previous tournament action here.

airline madness champion obese passengers

Obese passengers who take up two seats has won our Airline Madness tournament. After last year’s Hotel Madness tournament was completely dominated by the #1 seed, it’s shocking to see this Airline Madness won by the #13 seed. It just goes to show that you never know what to expect when things are put to a vote. Obese passengers who take up two seats garnered a shocking number of votes from Gadling readers in every round of the tournament. Even in the championship round, #2 seed Legroom struggled to secure even 40% of the vote. Our readers, it turns out, do not like to share their space.When we first put out a call for airline pet peeve submissions on Twitter and Facebook, heavy passengers were frequently mentioned, though not nearly as often those that would ultimately be given the higher seeded annoyances in our tournament. That’s how we arrived at the #13 seed for the eventual – and unexpected – champion. We had no idea at the time that readers would vote in droves for the Cinderella of the tournament.

We fully anticipated voters to be motivated by their wallets. Shockingly, however, an overwhelming majority of our readers voted for Obese passengers who take up two seats in the first round against Baggage fees. We knew then that readers from across the globe shared this opinion. Little did we know that voters would continue the trend all the way through the tournament.

Now, it should be noted that some of the blame for the phenomenon on planes must be placed on the airlines. They have made their seats smaller and smaller over the years. So much so, that even average-sized travelers struggle to fit comfortably. That, of course, explains how Legroom made it to the finals. And, as any traveler with broad shoulders will tell you, rubbing shoulders with the passenger next to you is fairly common. So, heavier passengers are not solely to blame for the cramped quarters on planes.

That said, voters in our polls expressed that they do not like giving up their space. Outside of paying more for a business or first-class seat, we’re stuck with the economy cabin seats offered by the airlines. The airlines dictate the size of those seats. And our readers have said that they do not want anyone infringing on that small portion of the airplane that they get to call their own.

Another Travel Madness tournament in the books. What a wild ride this year’s run has been. An unexpected champion, an amazing number of votes and some fantastic feedback from our readers. Thanks to everyone who voted in all of the polls.

If you missed any of the action from Airline Madness or simply want to enjoy it all again, use the links below.

More Airline Madness:
Championship: Obese people who take up two seats vs. Legroom
Final Four
Second round match-ups:
#1 Annoying Passengers vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats
#12 Inattentive parents of crying babies vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats
#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #3 Lack of free food/prices for food
#7 Rude airline staff vs. #2 Legroom
First round match-ups
#1 Annoying passengers vs. #16 Disgusting bathrooms
#2 Legroom vs. #15 Inefficient boarding procedures
#3 Lack of free food/prices for food vs. #14 Cold cabin/no blankets
#4 Baggage Fees vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats
#5 Lack of overhead space vs. Inattentive parents of crying babies
#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #11 Lack of personal entertainment/charging for entertainment
#7 Rude airline staff vs. #10 Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff & landing
#8 People who recline their seats vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats
Hotel Madness: Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances

Catch up on all the Airline Madness here.

Airline Madness Championship: Obese people who take up two seats vs. Legroom

Airline Madness is Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances. You can catch up on all of the previous tournament action here.

In a tournament full of upsets and unexpected outcomes, it’s fitting that the Airline Madness championship match-up does not feature the bracket’s top seed. Instead, it all comes down to #2 Legroom and #13 Obese people who take up two seats. In the Final Four, Obese people who take up two seats proved to be too big for all of those other annoying passengers combined. Legroom, meanwhile, kicked those change fees and standby charges off the plane. That’s how we got here, but what happens next is, once again, up to you. Only one of these truly annoying airline pet peeves will be declared the ultimate annoyance of the skies and your votes will decide it.

It’s almost unbelievable that a #13 seed could advance to the finals, but Obese people who take up two seats have proven to be bigger than any challengers. Legroom has proven itself deserving of its #2 seed by showing that it’s a pain in the neck as much as it’s a pain in the knees.

Which airline annoyance deserves to be named champion? Vote now and share your thoughts in the comments!
%Poll-74241%
Championship voting ends at 11:59PM EDT on Monday, April 2.

In case you need help deciding, let’s take a look at these two aviation irritations:

#2 Legroom
The average seat pitch in economy class is between 29 inches and 30 inches. That doesn’t allow for much legroom, no matter how much thinner they make the seat-backs. You don’t need to be freakishly tall to feel cramped once you fold yourself into your seat. Want more legroom? Well, now the airlines make you pay for exit row seats or “Premium Economy,” which is nothing more than an economy seat with the legroom that was offered to everyone a decade ago. These days, you might have more personal space in a dog crate in the luggage compartment.

#13 Obese people who take up two seats
Not all obese people are created equally. Some overeat, others have genetic disorders, while many suffer from crippling medical issues. Regardless of the reason, however, there is no excuse for taking up someone else’s space. I paid for my seat and only I get to use it. If you can’t fit in one seat, shouldn’t you have to pay for the space that you do need? It’s not a punishment; it’s just common sense. Once a child becomes too large to sit on his parent’s lap, he needs his own seat. Shouldn’t the same hold true once your waistline is too large to fit in a single seat?

More Airline Madness:
Final Four
Second round match-ups:
#1 Annoying Passengers vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats
#12 Inattentive parents of crying babies vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats
#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #3 Lack of free food/prices for food
#7 Rude airline staff vs. #2 Legroom
First round match-ups
#1 Annoying passengers vs. #16 Disgusting bathrooms
#2 Legroom vs. #15 Inefficient boarding procedures
#3 Lack of free food/prices for food vs. #14 Cold cabin/no blankets
#4 Baggage Fees vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats
#5 Lack of overhead space vs. Inattentive parents of crying babies
#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #11 Lack of personal entertainment/charging for entertainment
#7 Rude airline staff vs. #10 Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff & landing
#8 People who recline their seats vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats
Hotel Madness: Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances

Catch up on all the Airline Madness here.

Airline Madness: The Final Four

Airline Madness is Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances. You can catch up on all of the previous tournament action here.

gadling airline madness tournament final four

After two weeks of voting – along with intense debate in the comments – we have reached the Final Four of Airline Madness. The second round continued the drama that has become the trademark of this tournament, as #13 seed Obese people who take up two seats pulled off another upset by crushing those crying babies (and their inattentive parents). Meanwhile, when it comes to your money, #6 seed Change fees/no free standby won an upset of its own, proving to be way more annoying than the lack of free food. Annoying passengers and Legroom showed why they’re the top two seeds of the tournament by advancing in dominant fashion. Now it’s time for you to vote on the Final Four to see who advances to the championship. We’re not wasting any time, so read on to cast your votes!

gadling airline madness annoying passengers obese people
#1 Annoying passengers vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats

The tournament’s two most impressive performers finally battle. Annoying passengers come in all shapes, sizes and aromas. No matter which type you encounter (be it the chatty neighbor, the loud talker or the smelly traveler), they’re sure to ruin your flight. Meanwhile, obese people who take up two seats try to steal what you paid for. That’s your seat and no one should be able to annex part of your space.

Only one of these on-board menaces can advance to compete for the championship.
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gadling airline madness change fees standby legroom
#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #2 Legroom

In our other Final Four match-up, two classic airline pet peeves square off. Switching flights at the airport used to be a breeze. Now? Get ready to pony up $100. And standby? Yeah, that will cost you as well. Once you get on the plane, however, that’s when legroom becomes an issue. Legroom isn’t just a problem for tall people. Virtually everyone feels cramped – if not completely claustrophobic – in planes because that seat in front of you is way too close for comfort (and your knees are practically in your chest).

Which classic annoyance will move on to the championship match?
%Poll-74146%
Final Four voting ends at 11:59PM EDT on Wednesday, March 28.

More Airline Madness:
Second round match-ups:
#1 Annoying Passengers vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats
#12 Inattentive parents of crying babies vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats
#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #3 Lack of free food/prices for food
#7 Rude airline staff vs. #2 Legroom
First round match-ups
#1 Annoying passengers vs. #16 Disgusting bathrooms
#2 Legroom vs. #15 Inefficient boarding procedures
#3 Lack of free food/prices for food vs. #14 Cold cabin/no blankets
#4 Baggage Fees vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats
#5 Lack of overhead space vs. Inattentive parents of crying babies
#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #11 Lack of personal entertainment/charging for entertainment
#7 Rude airline staff vs. #10 Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff & landing
#8 People who recline their seats vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats
Hotel Madness: Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances

Catch up on all the Airline Madness here.