American Airlines To Cram More Seats Onto Aircraft

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.

Video: Southwest Airlines’ departure from the Oskhosh AirVenture

Though aviation enthusiasts are the focus of each annual Oshkosh AirVenture, there’s also a big commercial and and industrial component. This year, for example, Ford, GE and Honda each had a significant presence on the grounds, largely for what seems to be exposure.

As part of the festivities, Southwest also brought one of their Boeing 737s to display at the show, and they chocked the airplane full of volunteers, employees and media for a special shuttle flight from Chicago‘s Midway into the heart of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. And since Gadling Labs is based out of Chicago, we hitched along for the ride.

Departure from Midway was at an eye-rubbing 7AM, and once on the ground in Oshkosh we had full range to wander wherever and photograph whatever we wanted. And just as the clouds rolled in at 5PM, we gathered back together to make the journey home.

First officer JC was standing on the airstairs as we watched the clouds roll in, and somehow we got onto the topic of cockpit jumpseat availability. Asked if we could take an open slot, he shrugged in affirmation — since this wasn’t a commercially operated Southwest flight the rules on passengers in the cockpit weren’t as strict, so after checking with the captain of the flight we came up front.

Above, you’ll see the perspective of the Southwest crew during the taxi and takeoff from Oshkosh AirVenture. With spectators lining the parallel taxi way and a festive atmosphere all about it was truly a unique experience — we hope you enjoy the perspective.

GadlingTV’s Travel Talk 012: Trains, planes, & mergers! Behind the scenes at Southwest Airlines, Gowalla & Gadling in Austin + a brand new GIVEAWAY!!

GadlingTV’s Travel Talk, episode 12 – Click above to watch video after the jump
Well, we’ve been bouncing around the country this week and have got a great show to prove it! From Dallas, Texas to Austin, Texas and finally Portland, Oregon – we’ll take you behind the scenes at Love Field Airport and the operational headquarters of Southwest Airlines!

In the news this week: United & Continental’s big merger, a new train makes tracks in a forbidden country, we look into the biggest World Expo in history, and find out why your toothpaste may once again be safe while traveling through Europe.

We get the inside scoop on Austin-based tech startup Gowalla, and catch up with Gadling crew for a day out on the town. Last but not least, we’re GIVING AWAY TWO FREE TICKETS on Virgin America!! Watch to the end to find out how to enter!!

Tune in next week for our full Portland, Oregon special!

If you have any questions or comments about Travel Talk, you can email us at talk AT gadling DOT com.

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Get the official scoop on the United/Continental merger.
U.S State Department’s guidelines for visiting North Korea.
Must Watch!! The Vice Guide to North Korea. An in-depth look at DPRK guided tours.
Going to the World Expo 2010? Download and print this form and read these instructions.
More Shanghai World Expo 2010 photos!

We’re giving away two free tickets on Virgin America!

To enter, join our Facebook group and send us an email, telling us 1) where you would go 2) what you would do there 3) who you would take.

At the end of May, one lucky winner will be randomly selected from our inbox. So, get your friends to submit to increase your chances!!

Hosts: Stephen Greenwood, Aaron Murphy-Crews, Drew Mylrea
Special Guest: Jonathan Carroll, Jeremy Kressman.

Produced, Edited, and Directed by: Stephen Greenwood, Aaron Murphy-Crews, Drew Mylrea

Update **The current video has been revised from it’s original version at the request of Southwest airlines. We were given a sneak peak at the TSA’s baggage screening room and filmed bags being opened, which presented privacy concerns. That footage, as well as a mention of Southwest’s mechanical practices – has been removed.

Music by:
Finn Riggins

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Indonesian 737 skids off runway, breaks in half

An Indonesian 737 operated by Merpati Nusantara Airlines skidded off of a runway in the eastern Paupa province early yesterday, coming to rest over a canal and subsequently breaking in two right through the fuselage.

Initial reports indicate that the incident was weather related and had nothing to do with the aircraft or its operator.

Miraculously, nobody was killed during the incident although scores were injured. The crash does, however, bring the safety records for many Indonesian carriers back into the limelight, many of which have been recently scrutinized for being below international standard. MSNBC has footage from the crash site below:



Kulula-air tries not to take itself too seriously is a low-fare 737 carrier based in South Africa. The airline started in 2001 and recently took delivery of a new 737-800 with an unusual paint scheme.

Dubbed “Flying 101” it isn’t the typical Kulula logo-jet.

Someone there clearly has a sense of humor. The entire airplane is covered with details about the plane, including arrows pointing to the more interesting parts.

“The big cheese” describes the captain’s window. An arrow points to the aircraft’s registration, calling it the “Secret code.”

Even the lav is pointed out, with the description, “Loo (or mile-high initiation chamber).”

The black box, seats, stabilizer and rudder are also pointed out and include a bit of clever commentary as well. I think we can all appreciate a marketing scheme that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

More pics:

Special thanks to Shanairpic via Flickr.