Now Passengers Are Advised To Bring Your Own Seat? Airlines to Move To “Bench Seating”

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 6.50.30 AMThrough the years, I have written stories criticizing the airline industry for its nosedive in customer services and accommodations. (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). It now turns out that airlines are moving to make flights even more uncomfortably with “bench seating” that will allow them to stuff more passengers into a cabin. While this is better than the “standing only” sections of RyanAir, it is yet another example of how passengers are now being treated as little more than bleating sheep by airline executives who have already reduced space so that you cannot open a computer or risk knee capping.

The new seats are described in the article below as “‘park bench’ airline seats that have much thinner padding that previous models (they’re as hard as sitting on a park bench in other words—although I’ve likened them to a church pew in the past posts). And because they’re thinner, the airlines figure they can move rows of them closer together, which means more seats per plane.” The seats are also shorter so that you are sitting on a ledge that ends on the middle of an average person’s thighs. On long flights, it will add to the already growing discomfort on these flying cattle cars of coach. With more passengers, there will also be less room overhead and longer lines at bathrooms.

The suggestions for travelers, including dividing flights into multiple flights to avoid the pain of sitting in these benches for long periods. Thus we now have to spend hours more in flight to deal with punishing conditions on airplanes. However, my favorite is “bring your own seat cushion” which you can bring on with neck pillows like ones sold by Tempur-Pedic that is 16 x 16 x 2 inches.

Of course, there is also the suggestion (clearly preferred by the airlines) to upgrade. First class is now what coach used to be and coach is now what baggage holds used to be on American airlines.

43 thoughts on “Now Passengers Are Advised To Bring Your Own Seat? Airlines to Move To “Bench Seating””

  1. Just another example of how Americans have no standards. They are ruining their own country to save a buck – which you don´t earn any interest on now anyway. Of course there will be the idiots who put up with this crap. I feel sorry for people who have to travel for their jobs. In the 90s in I travelled for my job as a lowly Marketing Assistant. Only business or first class. My boss insisted on it. He said I had to be in good shape and ready to work upon arrival. They don´t make many bosses like that anymore, do they?

  2. calypso, Absolutely! Flying was for the privileged before deregulation. But, w/ some airlines, flying coach is like being in steerage on the boats coming to the US in the early 1900’s. That’s how my grandparents got here.

  3. Francie, Everyone should make it a point to stand and walk about periodically on a long flight to avoid DVT. I have seen PSA’s on this topic.

  4. I agree with everything Bruce said. But it’s also true that the lower rates created by those measures have led to literally hundreds of millions of people being able to afford travel for business, family visits, and vacations that wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity. Since deregulation in 1978 the average domestic ticket price has dropped by 40%. There are currently more than twice as many commercial flights per capita in the US as in 1980. Flight with all the amenities is still available at the same inflation-adjusted price as in the ’70s … most of us just aren’t willing to pay for it with an available low-cost alternative.

    1. I would do the canal thingie. I always wanted to canoe from Yellowstone Park to the mouth of the Mississippi.

  5. I’ve got it . . . a new national network of canals, so we can sail from place to place. Take that, airlines!

  6. Just one more reason for me to refrain from flying these days. No comforts, being treated like cattle, previous flying mishaps (numerous), I prefer to stick to cruises or driving myself. Far more comfortable so the vaca. is more enjoyable. Happy flying.

  7. Some have scolded me for schmoozing govt. officials to get confidential info. Well folks, schmoozing is how this world works. But, it is not a bad thing. When I expressed empathy for that gate agent it was real. She could tell that. There’s nothing wrong w/ engaging people and getting a reward for it. Now, many folks don’t have the social skills and demeanor for it. But, many do and don’t use it. That’s a waste of talent. And, a waste of talent is a sad way to live your life.

  8. Bruce Olson, Great synopsis and analysis. This blog has some very interesting people w/ real world experiences to relate.

  9. On international flights, always check w/ the gate for complimentary upgrades. My family was travelling to Italy on Christmas Day 2006, Chicago-Rome. I spoke w/ the gate agent, and beautiful Hispanic young woman. She complimented me on my name and we just had a pleasant conversation. I had empathy for her having to work on Christmas, having to do so in my younger years. I worked Christmas Day as a house dick @ the Drake Hotel. It’s a 500 room property and I think we had 20 people in the house. She smiled and said her extended family always had a big Christmas. But, she got off work @ 3pm and they were just holding it until then. When I asked for an upgrade she said she was pretty sure she could get us into business class. A half hour later she paged me just as boarding was beginning. She waved my entire family up to the gate. She comped us first class. That’s another world on a 747. I gave her my card and told her if she ever needed a license plate run or something like that it was done. That’s the only time asking for a comp upgrade worked for me, but ALWAYS ASK. There were only 4 other people in first class that day, which allowed her to comp us.

  10. In 1978-83 our govt. said the industry must deregulate and deregulateit did.

    Our govt. said our prices must be competitive not set, no linger approved and based on competition and our price wars began.

    Our govt. said we, must remain safe while we do all of this and remain safer even than prior to deregulation we did.

    Our govt. said we must rely on our profits to survive and we did.

    Our govt. said nothing abut how to do all of these wonderful things without going bust and some of us did but many of us did not. They went the way of the dinosaurs.

    Our Govt. said it must be affordable and it is…the most affordable in the world, cheaper than it was before.

    Our govt. said nothing about comfort
    and we tried to keep it but could not do all of the above and still have comfort so we cut it out.

    Our airlines are municipal bus services. Basic utilitarian public transport. Nothing more nothing less. Get used to it. It is what we demanded and still do both through our govt. and our pocketbooks.

    Get used to it.

    Bruce Olson, retired airline executive..

  11. While it seems airlines are getting worse, they have always been bad. Comedians, going back to the early 70’s, have always had bits about airlines and how they treat passengers.

  12. Paul – if you do take that long international flight, seriously consider upgrading to the “extra leg room” seats, prices vary by airline, but well worth it for added comfort on any flights of 4 hours or more duration.

    1. deb – it has been suggested that I drug myself to sleep and travel that way. 🙂 The trip is being comped, so I am not sure what I can do about the travel arrangements.

  13. In the early 1800s passenger ships routinely crammed passengers into their holds like cattle. To prevent this abuse, the 1819 Steerage Act regulated the amount of space that ships were required to provide for each passenger. Financial penalties were exacted for excess passengers, including forfeiture of the ship for egregious cases. We seem to have regressed in the past 200 years. It’s time for a 2015 Steerage Act.

  14. we are not passengers – simply human load components to be monetized to our maximum potential. Am so happy that with recent mergers we may not have legitimate competition for other options.

  15. Perhaps it will discourage more large folks from traveling, therein reducing overall weight on flights, and might encourage folks who must travel, to lose some weight. Maybe instructions on reservation sites could include a comment like, “seats are most comfortable for those who weigh no more than 175 lbs. The less you weigh, the more comfortable you will be so please plan your diet for the next two weeks accordingly”. Maybe it can contribute to reducing the nationwide obesity problem.

  16. The target of the old saying, “If you tell lies often enough they become believed.” is the vacuous mind. That echoed throughout America on Tuesday.

    And this is all you got, uncomfortable seats on airplanes. No wonder this country is sliding backwards.

  17. Airlines would save more money if they just hollowed out the planes and loaded people in on pallets. They could really stack them up!
    Call up the scoops!

  18. I do not fly enough that this is a problem, however I am thinking of making a long international flight soon, so I will keep this in mind.

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