Plane Passengers’ Tolerance Being Tested as Airlines Try to Squeeze More People Into Narrower Seats

Amid the disturbing headlines, a rare glimmer of hope came last week as Southwest Airlines announced new seats on its Boeing 737-800s would actually be two centimetres wider.
Amid the disturbing headlines, a rare glimmer of hope came last week as Southwest Airlines announced new seats on its Boeing 737-800s would actually be two centimetres wider.

In search of greater revenues, airlines are once again testing their passengers’ tolerance for discomfort.

A week’s worth of headlines show a declining respect for the economy flyer and the risks of where that could lead — more cases of air rage, religious tensions and even potential sexual assault.

“It’s the race to the bottom that we see throughout the industry,” says Halifax-based airline passenger advocate Gabor Lukacs. “They are trying to make profits or extra profit by offering worse service.”

As if things aren’t aggravating enough, two budget carriers, Ryanair and Spring Airlines, recently suggested standing-room flights may be the cost-cutting wave of the future.

While that may be the extreme, the reality is that more economy passengers are already being crammed into the same space on airplanes. To make room, the seats are getting smaller.

The trend towards maxing out capacity has become enough of a concern that the U.S. Department of Transportation convened a consumers advisory group last week to examine whether squeezing more flyers onto planes presents any danger for those passengers.

They examined everything from whether an increased number of seats makes it harder to evacuate a plane in an emergency to whether that increased capacity might lead to more air rage or whether cramped seating might cause more blood clotting, known as deep vein thrombosis.

Budget flyers shouldn’t expect any immediate relief. The comfort gap is widening between first- and business-class passengers and the rest of us in the back.

Boeing’s new short-haul 737 Max aircraft will be outfitted with 189 seats. The previous generation had 160. Ryanair will shoehorn 200 passengers onto the same plane.

As recently as 2010, 85 per cent of Boeing’s 777s had nine seats per row. About 70 per cent of Boeing’s 777s now have 10 per row, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In Europe, the Airbus A380 double-decker superjumbo jet unveiled last week will squeeze an extra seat into each economy row. The company also received permission from the overlords of European flight safety to bump capacity on its A320neo to 195 from 180.

The result is that the industry norm for an economy seat is now about 43 centimetres wide, compared to 47 centimetres two decades ago.

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SOURCE: Paul Hunter
The Star

One comment

  1. This is just another example of throwing Bible principles away. How do we “Love our Neighbor” if we treat them the way we would not wish to be treated. Do you think these airline executives will ride in economy class and be more crowded on their flights?

    You can tell that the end of days is approaching. The “idol” of money has overtaken the God of love. So very sad.

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