Crammed Airplane Seating Just Got Worse

transaero airlines plane
Jose Luis Celada Euba, Flickr

If you didn’t think flying could get any more uncomfortable than it already is, brace yourself, because a Russian airline is set to take the title for cramming the most seats on any commercial jet in the world.

Transaero Airlines is preparing to outfit its fleet of A380s and says it will furnish the planes with 652 seats across three different service classes — although naturally the vast majority of the seats (616 to be precise) will be dedicated to the economy class section of the plane. To give you a comparison, most other A380s are outfitted with 470-520 seats, so the Russian carrier’s plans represent a pretty significant step up in capacity.And while a body-constricting, knee-knocking, claustrophobia-inducing experience might be tolerable on a short domestic flight, the bad news is that these sardine-can-in-the-sky planes will be flying long haul. Some of the routes being proposed by Transaero include Moscow-Thailand and Moscow-Dominican Republic. But even domestic flights can be long haul when you’re talking about a country as large as Russia. One of the routes on the table includes Vladivostok to Moscow which clocks in at 4,000 miles. That’s a heck of a long distance to be squished up between 651 other weary fliers.

What do you think? Is airplane seating getting out of control?

ExpertFlyer Launches Seat Alert App

With airlines constantly reducing the number of free seats available at booking, more and more passengers are finding it impossible to guarantee seating when they purchase their tickets. Because of this, many travelers wait until they reach the airport to get a seat, resulting in parties being separated and less than ideal assignments near the back of the plane or in between other passengers.

The airlines take most of the fault for this, but there are a few neat tools to use if you want to get around the seat monster.

ExpertFlyer just released theirs for the iOS (Apple) platform. The tool basically takes a look at the seats available for each flight on which you’re traveling then alerts you when something changes. So if you’re stuck in a middle seat on UA 884, for example, you can ask the tool to search every day and then nudge you when a window seat opens up. The service is free, and is an extension of the greater offerings that ExpertFlyer provides.

Check out the iTunes page for more information.

Photo of the day – Waiting at the gate

Photo of the day
Today’s photo of the day is from a place every traveler has a love/hate relationship with: the airport gate. Beyond it lies exploration, excitement, or maybe just home. But it also stands for all the worst in travel: delays, cramped seats, and maybe the worst, other travelers. Flickr user davitydave philosophically calls this pic from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport “Each Waits His Own Way,” which is rather poetic for a picture of some dudes sitting around on ugly carpeting. How do you pass the time before boarding? Some of us frantically search for a wifi connection, others try to take a quick nap, and others, like the guy standing at right, like to look out onto the tarmac and imagine where all the planes are going.

Taken any good travel pics while waiting to board? Add them to the Gadling Flickr pool and we may use it as a future

photo of the day.

Airline seat as buffet rebuffed, only take what you buy

airline seatsWhen you go to a buffet, you know what to expect: take as much as you want. You pay once, and then you can consume all that you like. It’s the nature of the environment. This stands in stark contrast to other restaurants, where you pay for an entrée and get nothing more. If you want an appetizer, you have to shell out a few extra bucks – likewise dessert. As a society, we have learned to live with this, even to expect it.

Yet, this changes as soon as we start boarding planes. We want more than we’re paying for, even if it comes at the expense of someone else.

I was cruising through the travel news this morning and saw a Q&A story on ABC News about fights over the armrest. One passenger wants it up, and the other wants to put it down. A fight ensues, unless one of the passengers is reseated.

The question was simple: is it unreasonable to insist that the armrest go down when the passenger next to you is spilling over into your seat? Remember: airline seating isn’t a buffet.


The advice given by ABC News writer Lesley Carlin was on point, indicating that a passenger is entitled to the space she pays for, no exceptions. I was heartened to see her assessment, “Airplane seats are, quite simply, ridiculous,” which though obvious, needs to be restated routinely.

Carlin explains:

But, still, despite the underlying issues with the seats, when you buy a ticket, you’re buying a particular amount of space on the plane. It’s not fair for someone else to usurp some of it. If you live in an apartment and buy a Christmas tree that turns out to be too tall, you can’t just cut a hole in your ceiling and let some of it poke into your upstairs neighbor’s place, right? That’s exactly what the passenger leaning into your space was doing, and that’s not cool.

So, would you eat from a stranger’s plate … without asking?

[photo by InfoMofo via Flickr]

SkyMall Monday: Trailer Hitch & Cradle Chairs

Football season is upon us and that can only mean two things: It’s time for tailgating and unrelenting gastrointestinal distress.

Nothing beats gathering with a dozen or so of your most sports-obsessed friends to eat sausages, steaks, burgers and other such indulgences at nine in the morning. How else will people know that you love your team? The problem comes after the meal and before kickoff. You’re bloated, gassy and in need of some relief. You can’t get back into your car because the noxious fumes emanating from your bowels could suffocate you. You can’t go into the stadium because they haven’t opened the gates yet. You don’t want to go to the bathroom in the parking lot because social mores prohibit your from popping a squat on the ground. All you need is a place to take the pressure off of your body.

Thankfully, SkyMall has just the thing to help you sneak in a pregame nap while all of those vitamins, minerals and nitrates course through your veins. When regular chairs aren’t enough, you need to up the ante. You need to keep your feet elevated and your buttocks properly supported after a breakfast of ribs and pulled pork. That’s why you look to SkyMall Monday. That’s why we’re looking at the Trailer Hitch & Cradle Chairs.The problem with regular chairs is that they sit on the ground. The ground is hard and once you’re full of meat and cheese, gravity begins to affect you more. It pulls you towards that hardness in a way that puts stress on your ankles, knees and GI tract. Soon, you’ll need to find a port-o-potty for more than just a tinkle. The last thing anyone wants is to have to sit down and do some real business in one of those bad boys. That’s why you need to reduce gravity’s (and pork’s) unrelenting pull on your organs as quickly as possible. The more relaxed you are as you attack that second six pack of Natty Light, the less seismic activity you’ll experience in your colon.

Think that normal chairs are perfectly adequate for tailgating? Don’t believe that a full slab of ribs is appropriate for one person to eat, let alone for breakfast before attending a football game at which they will most certainly indulge in french fries coated in cheese and/or cheese-like products? Well, why not read the product description while you munch on that apple and wonder why no one at the office ever invites you to happy hour:

Imagine the faces of your pre-game buddies when they see you kicking back in this! Innovative and patented design takes leisure to a whole new level, instantly bringing the laid back comfort of a hammock to your favorite campgrounds, tailgate parties and sporting events.

Yes, imagine the faces. Horror, disgust Awe, envy, concern over the tensile strength of the chair’s support beam.

Sure, you could bring a couple of beach chairs, but they take mere seconds to unload out of your car. Then you’ll have nothing else to do and get sucked into helping cook or, even worse, clean up afterward! By making your chair a complex system that must be securely fastened to your truck hitch, you ensure that you’ll be occupied for most of the tailgate preperation. By the time you’re done getting the chairs safely in place, the first round of bratwursts should be grilled to perfection and you’ll already be pretty buzzed. And isn’t that what football mornings are all about?

Take a load off (and keep a load out of your pants) with the Trailer Hitch & Cradle Chairs. Your hemorrhoids will be glad that you did.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.