More Sardine Seating on Airlines

Dec 15th, 1999, 12:28 PM
Bob Brown
Posts: n/a
More Sardine Seating on Airlines

I hate being the bearer of bad tidings, but I just read Laurie Berger's editorial in the December editorial of Consumer Reports Travel Letter. She states that airlines are planning to fly more narrow bodies on long flights and cram even more seats into the
available space. Ms. Berger also reports that Congress is holding off on passenger rights legislation to see what happens with industry-originated efforts. So if you have a complaint let the DOT know. Email:
[email protected]
(You really think those money hungry moguls at Delta and other places are going to lighten up on sardine can style seating until something hits them over the head?)

If the complaints and comments I have read on this forum about tight seating on the new Boeing 777s is any indication, things are going to get worse before they get better.
After flying in misery on a Delta flight from Atlanta to Paris in September, I have a new appreciation for torture methods. I pity anyone over 6 feet who flies coach class on an MD 11 configured as that one was.

Dec 15th, 1999, 12:40 PM
Posts: n/a
There's an easy solution: Fork out the extra $2000 for business or first class. The airlines are out to make a buck just like you and me. If you want to continue to have cheap fares despite the ever-increasing cost of gas, you're gonna have to put up with some inconvenience. As for myself, once I'm running around in Europe I forget any temporary discomfort.
Dec 15th, 1999, 01:52 PM
Bob Brown
Posts: n/a
In response, first, the cheapest business class fare I can find in January between Atlanta and Paris is considerably more than an "extra" $2000, as Bert calls it. It is more like $6,000 for one person. So unless there is a source of tickets that grants huge discounts, I cannot afford to fly to Europe at $6,000 per person. (I consulted Expedia for the $6,000 price. The basic assumption is that Expedia knows of what it speaks.)
Second, if you have not tried the seating on an MD-11 for a trans Atlantic flight as configured by Delta, or a Boeing 777, I am not sure the evidence is complete. On the MD 11, the length of the seat pitch was at least two inches shorter than I measure from knee to rear. At 6'0" and 180 pounds I am not exactly huge. People much shorter than that have complained about the seating on some flights.
Moreover, the price of gas has not gone up that much!! Nor are the economics of eating configurations such that gas prices can justify current conditions.

There is another issue here to: Am I totally without voice in the product I purchase?? Am I supposed to accept silently, without complaint, anything the airlines shove down my throat just because they want to make a buck?
Your local meat market is trying to make a buck, too, but do you take home poor quality hamburger, cook it, and eat it and smile about it?
The answer is W#$### NO! Well, I feel the same way about the product I am forced to purchase from the airlines. Moreover, seating has gotten so tight that in the views of many air safety experts, it has reached the danger threshhold. So, is the assertion that we, the flying public, must put up with unsafe as well as uncomfortable seating conditions just because the air line is trying to make a buck!!??
In that case why don't we fly standing up??!!! Then 400 could fly in the space occupied by 270. People could not eat much, there would be further revenue enhancement by saving on food and drink.

The economics of the situation do not hold up either. Lets start with the premise that we have 30 rows in economy class with 9 abreast seating. That is 270 passenger seats. Last September, Air France/Delta were charging about $600 round trip between ATL and CDG. The economy class revenue generated by that configuration is $162,000. To give each of the 30 rows 3 more inches of leg room, measured at sitting level from seat back to seat back, with seats upright, we have to take out about 10 feet of seating. That means a reduction of 4 rows and 36 seats.
To generate the same revenue of $162,000 with 234 seats rather than 270, the fare would have to be $686.00 per person.

I would gladly pay an extra $86 to fly without my knees spread at a 50% angle, sitting upright, for 8 or so hours.

Surely there is some compromise that can be reached between $600 a seat and a $6,000 one. One person flying in business class does not consume space equal to 10 economy class passengers.
So the profit margin must be much greater for business class passengers.
Ergo, the economy class vagabonds get the shaft!
Dec 15th, 1999, 02:12 PM
Posts: n/a
There's an interesting point-by-point analysis of the airline industry's new voluntary standards in the most recent Conde Nast Traveler. The bottom line is that they don't amount to much more than the airlines are already doing, plus some disclosure requirements that mean that the airlines just have to tell you what their current standards are, not that they actually have to improve them.
Dec 15th, 1999, 02:45 PM
Posts: n/a
One has to wonder when the time will come that seats really are sold by size.

The ramifications will be many times more enormous than the "fat guy" whose "bad" manners sparked the thread that got beaten to death (did his manners really have anything to do with his size?)

Europeans will snicker at how such a policy would "serve Americans right" with our bigger asses. And how much would airlines charge 35-pound 3-year olds? If prices are by the pound, airplanes will fill up with families with eight kids! My inlaws could have taken my wife (when she was a little girl) and each of her siblings to First Communion with the Pope himself if such a policy had existed back in the fifties!

Of course you can't fit three 35 pound kids into one adult seat - - the same seat that seems to be more or less appropriate for a size 2, 105-pound Calista Flockhart or a 305-pounder.

Maybe Internet booking will be a moderating step in allowing us to "vote with our wallets" - - how 'bout it, Fodors and Frommers? - - put some pressure on Expedia, Travelocity and other online sources to show the configuration of the aircraft (wow, and even the seat pitch!) on the very first screen that tells what flights match our selection of itineraries and dates!!
Dec 15th, 1999, 03:04 PM
Posts: n/a

You could cram two of the 35-pound kids into the seat and put the other one into the overhead, as long as it fits through the carryon-size cutout at the security checkpoint.

I don't think it would be fair to price by weight alone. What about the 6'2" beanpole who uses up valuable legroom out of proportion to his or her weight? Surely the programmers who came up with the airlines' yield-management pricing systems could do something algor ithmically that factors in height, weight, leg length, hip width, seat reclinining frequency, and who hogs the armrests.
Dec 15th, 1999, 11:22 PM
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I'll write to the DOT, thanks for the suggestion. I'm 5'10" and even I have a hell of a time sitting through an international (or any) flight, and would gladly pay a bit more for some room to be able to cross/uncross my legs and (dare I dream) be comfortable.
Dec 16th, 1999, 06:25 AM
Posts: n/a
Bob is right on with this ... if people don't complain it is going to get worse and worse. Airlines are ordering more and more single aisle jets, with the ever popular 3 abreast seating so we can expect more and more uncomfortable flights. There was an article in the Wall St. Journal recently about this. Short of boycotting flying (which I expect no one on this Forum is prepared to do) writing to appropriate agencies (and even the airlines themselves) is about the only way to protest. We choose our seats very carefully when flying but even still we are usually uncomfortable on long flights and we are not large folks. I'd be willing to pay a little more for more leg room for sure, but we can't afford business or first class .. maybe airlines ought to run some surveys on this (altho I expect they know the answer). Revenue is their major interest, not our comfort.
Dec 16th, 1999, 06:47 AM
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I like your analysis Bob. I too would be willing to pay $86 for a couple extra inches. I believe I read that one airline (was it United?) was going to add some "big seats". They would be a little wider with a little more legroom, and would be reserved for full fare coach customers and frequent flyers. Of course, full fare coach is almost as expensive as business class. (This is the price travellers pay when they book without the 21 day advance, and without the "non-refundable" rigamarole) I think its a good idea, but why not make those seats available at a premium, but not outrageous cost?

The airlines really make it difficult for us large people to do the right thing. On our last trip I investigated buying 3 seats for my husband and myself, so we could have some extra space. The airline wouldn't do advance seating assignment and refused to guarantee that we could get the three seats together!! Well, that kind of shot that idea in the head.
Dec 16th, 1999, 07:17 AM
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Are the seats in the 777 as bad as I have seen described in some of these messages? I have flown 4 or 5 times on 777's on 1 particular airline, 3 of those times to Europe, & I thought the seats were rather comfortable, compared to the 767's & some others. I am 6'0" & about 200lbs.
Dec 16th, 1999, 09:20 AM
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Bravo to Bob for taking a stance on these sardine airline seats! I am only 5" and less than 112 lbs and yet "I" am miserable in these horrible excuses for airline seats! I flew on the new Continental B777 to Europe last Spring paying more in coach for a ticket than what I could have paid on another airline thinking at least the flight would be more comfortable. What a joke! The seats were so hard and had less padding than any others we have sat in and were just as squashed together as usual! We got off the plane in London with very exhausted and sore bodies! There is NO, NO, excuse for the airlines to get away with such seating!! And if people like the other poster make excuses for them then we will never see more comfortable seating in coach.

I endured this for US flights because they were only 3 or 4 hours but to put people in such horrible seats for an 8 hour or more international flight is unexcusable! And please know that not all of us are paying $300 for those cheapie international flights. Many like myself are paying over $800 or more due to the times we must travel. I think for this much money we should be able to fly at least comfortably even in coach! Thanks Bob and all the others for making your feelings known about these miserable flights.

If more of us complain, maybe they will at least take out even "one" row of seats on the international flights so we can move even short legs like mine!!
Dec 16th, 1999, 11:45 AM
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What's fair if you're FISH?

Message: On my last flight, I found in the sardine section. The one next to me smelled funny, left oil stains on his seat, and kept crowding me. Said he was used to it. The flight attendant refused to do anything, and I was so miserable I could barely eat my meal. Why don't the airlines do something about this? Why should I have to sit with sardines?
Dec 16th, 1999, 07:36 PM
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Well, as long as the numbers of people wanting to fly get larger, and the amount they are willing to pay is smaller, and the projected delays will happen in the future, it will be tiresome to fly. Airlines are in it for "profit", not comfort. It is approx $9,000 to fly from this city to London, $5,000 business (I have flown them both) anddd $400 in coach (at a good fair, off season). Naturally, except when flying for business, we fly coach. Still, we must be aware off other's rights, and try to be civil, and codes of conduct and ethics should be enforced by airplace personel. I thing they should have the right to "ticket" obnoxious people and make them subject to arrest, or at least put them on a "list" that no airline company will accept them as clients. We could all manage it if we would show a little concern for others.
Dec 16th, 1999, 11:00 PM
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True, a little concern goes a long way, but it doesn't even begin to solve the fact that you can't cross/uncross your legs in your airplane seat, where you're expected to sit for 8 hours or more!
Dec 17th, 1999, 08:54 AM
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I think the issue limited information on service that you are buying. I think that airlines should be forced to provide additional information about a plane/flight at the time you purchase a ticket. Seat Size should be on top of that list. In-flight movie/food served also should be on that list as well as how crowded the plane is at that time- this way someone buying a ticket knows exactly what they are paying for, and can make a decision. Why is that information not available to a customer currently? I guess that is what DOT should require Airlines to start providing. At least the seat size information in understandable format (which does not change everyday, so it can not be argued as additional Admin expense to Airlines).
Dec 19th, 1999, 03:41 PM
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My wife and I flew to Paris over Thanksgiving on a United Boeing 777. On the trip out we were in the middle of the five-across section, and needless to say we were both uncomfortable. On the way the back the plane was less than half full. We had all five seats to ourselves and we were still uncomfortable. The seat pitch is so narrow that ankles and shins are stuck against hard metal, and knees help support the seat in front of you. How new is the 777 and, god forbid, is it becoming the industry standard?
Dec 20th, 1999, 04:41 AM
Posts: n/a
I agree about the uncomfortable seating on the 777. On a flight on United to Santiago, the flight attendent refered to the 777, as the body cruncher. No doubt she was telling the truth. With reference to seat size, that information is available on United's new website. It shows each type of airplane, a floorplan, and the seat sizes for each class of service. It doesn't make the flight anymore comfortable, but it does give good information. Also, they did finish, I understand, making the front section of coach in 757's the same pitch as business class. You can see that on the maps. However, I believe these seats are reserved for premier status customers. Anyway, it is a miserable situation, flying in coach.
Dec 20th, 1999, 06:09 AM
Posts: n/a
Here! Here! I agree with most of you !!! (about the seating)

I been on a plane in 1985 to Disney World using Delta I don't remember anything about that trip except that I went into the cock pit and looked around since I was the only kid on the all 4 flights they allowed me too and being thinking only "I'm going to Disney World. and Why did my father have to die?".

Then in 1997 I went with my uncle to Altantic City on NorthEaster(sp) I remember the seats were narrow, short and hard and the only thing that was good was the in plane grambling (we were a grambling group) and I was the big winner! $1500.

Now in Feb of 2000, I'm going to London with a group from my college using Virgin Alantic Airlines. From what I heard the folks don't care about the customers either!

What is it anyway with the Airlines can't they see that if they don't start doing something now they all will see the customers stand up and say in the near future "We aren't going to take this anymore!!!" and not fly for awhile then maybe the airlines will get it then!!!

Airlines and the gov't will ingore the people as long as they can. They ARE just in the business to make money.
Unless we stand up now no one will heard us.

Isn't it funny that Airlines don't hire some group of people to do some rearch on their airlines to check out any forums and such? Oh, I forgot that would require money to spend and the Airlines don't what to do that, they just want to make money not put some back to make better it better for all us customers!!!

Thank you for read all this, if I upset someone I'm sorry but this is my option and I'm sticking by it!

Dec 20th, 1999, 11:31 AM
Posts: n/a
The Airlines are not going to change. They will continue to install the smallest seats possible as thy are in business to make money. More and more people are taking advantage of the low priced tickets offered by the Airlines and until people stop buying tickets you can bet that a few disgruntled individuals will not change anything. Yes I would like more room but the flight from San Francisco to London is only 10 hours and for that time I can stand it. Last year we went for $400 and for that price I was willing to stand if I had to. Stop complaining about the seats and look forward to the fun you will have when you arrive.
Dec 22nd, 1999, 11:20 AM
Posts: n/a
Yes, Roger (poster above) does have a point that for cheap prices one should be able to grin & bear again. BUT, I believe that when a company is in the business of providing a service, then those customers have the right (rather an obligation!) to complain when things are bad and to praise when service is good.
I flew on a new 777 this past April to London - I'm only 5'2" tall and can't imagine how longer legged folk manage. Admittedly I had the good fortune to snag an emergency exit row on the side (with 2 seats on a plane configured 2-5-2). Don't quote me, but I think it was row 27; due to having the exit door, there wasn't a row of seats directly in front of me. It's a prime spot for anyone who wants to avoid that claustraphobic feel - however sometimes it got a bit busy as you're also close to the bathrooms. Also, since you don't a seatback in front, then you don't have one of the individual screens with which to movie watch or play videos. Actually I think they did have something configured to pull up below the seat, but it wasn't working. (Yes, and I did say that this was a new plane - only in service for 3 months).

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