A third incident of “recline wars” has been reported, this time on a Delta Air Lines flight in which a dispute broke out between a passenger who reclined his seat and the passenger behind him who didn’t like it.
The New York Times has an article on the entire issue.
While the focus and debate has, so far, centered around who has rights–the passenger to recline or the passenger claiming reclining violates his space–the real issue, and blame, ought to rest with the airlines squeezing down legroom to a seat pitch of 28 inches (in the case of Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air) to an increasingly common 30 inches on legacy carriers.
Southwest Airlines in the USA decreased its generous 32 inches to 31 by installing so-called slim line seats in its Boeing 737s. The slim lines purport to still give the feeling of 32 inches. This still works.
But the trend toward squeeze is picking up steam and 31 inches may wind up being the outlier.
Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer each offer configurations that rely on 28 inch seat pitch: the 189-seat A320, the 240-seat A321, the 200 seat 737-8, the 160-seat CS300 and the 144-seat E-195-E2.
Cebu Pacific operates an Airbus A330-300 from The Philippines to the Middle East with more than 400 passengers, at 28 inch pitch.
Even Ryanair, notorious for its utter disdain toward the passenger, has a 30 inch pitch in coach. (Ryanair is now also offering a Premium section with greater pitch.)
Airlines offer more legroom for a higher fee, but the majority of passengers still fly the cheap seats, either by choice or because the premium seats are too expensive or sold out.
There have been lots of reports of air rage and passengers are blamed. We think the airlines are essentially inducing air rage and seat wars with lousy service, too many fees, uncomfortable airplanes, uncomfortable seating, often cranky cabin staff who have to deal with cranky customers as a result of the poor environment they are forced to fly in.
Boeing designed the 787 to be passenger friendly and to improve the passenger experience. The original intent was to have an eight-abreast coach class, providing comfortable seats. Airlines quickly went to nine abreast but in doing so went below an already-cramped 17 inch width seat. The 777 originally gained passenger accolades for comfort–at nine abreast in coach. Now, 70% of the airlines put in 10 abreast at a uncomfortable 17 inch seat width. For airplanes that fly 8,000 miles–some 12 or more hours–no wonder passengers are cranky.
If intelligence agencies want to extract information from terrorists, who needs water-boarding? Just make them fly coach on a long international flight.