The New American Airlines: A Tighter Squeeze for Passengers

You might think it’d be impossible to add more seats to a plane, but that would be underestimating the airlines. As the Associated Press reports, American Airlines – now in the process of merging with US Airways – says via regulatory filings that it “expects to add more seats to some of its planes.”

Listen as air travel analyst Rick Seaney – a taller than average fellow – explains the pros and cons.

What to Know about the American Merger

Adding More Seats to Cramped Cabins

For passengers in coach, this is not good news. But flyers should be used to this.

As FareCompare reported more than a year ago, Southwest began adding another six seats per plane – though the discount carrier claimed it wasn’t sacrificing passenger space because the new seats were thinner. Spirit Airlines, meanwhile, gets more seats per plane than most mainly thanks to what we’ve called its knee-crunching seat pitch of just 28 inches. The industry standard for seat pitch – the space between the back of your seat and the one in front of you – is roughly 31 inches. And yes, even a couple of inches does make a difference.

Legroom on Planes – The Real Story

Are Meal Changes Next?

The whole point of jamming more seats on planes is to sell more tickets to make more money. This latest move by American has some wondering what will the merger mean next? One travel blogger seems particularly concerned about meals in first and business class, explaining that, “American Airlines is known for providing the most food, while US Airways has a reputation for giving out the least amount of food. It’s a sticky subject that makes a big difference to passengers.” Maybe so, but coach flyers may well be wondering if they’ll have enough room to open a pack of peanuts without elbowing a seatmate.

Nasty Comments

Meanwhile, commenters are starting to weigh in on American’s extra seats and it’s getting lively out there:

  • “I hate to call airlines the Greyhounds of the sky, because that would be an insult to Greyhound!”
  • “I can’t imagine they can still add seats to the current configuration. By getting rid of the toilets?”
  • “Why not cram a few passengers in the overhead bins?”

Feel free to fire away. We’ve got plenty of room for your comments.


Published: June 13, 2013