As many of you know, my pet peeve is the declining comfort and services on U.S. airlines. From endless charges to new “bench seating”, U.S. airlines have shown open contempt for passengers who are treated as virtual cattle. Moreover, despite a long history of going to Congress for favors and subsidies, the airlines have a consistent record of ripping off passengers, including refusing to pass along huge savings from fuel prices in ticket prices. Now an interesting display shows the difference of leg room (another pet peeve) on airlines. The winner for the best treatment of passengers is Jet Blue which offers 34 inches to coach passengers. The worst is not surprisingly Spirit, whose CEO has previously admitted that he virtually prides himself of lousy service and comfort. The airline competing with Spirit as a virtual menace for passengers in terms of leg room is United at 30 inches. So below is the ignoble list of airlines and their ever diminishing space.
First, let’s be clear: the airlines have had a record year of profits. They simply refuse to lower ticket prices or more importantly improve passenger comfort. These airlines constantly excuse adding fees for things like bags due to fuel costs but then keep the charges when fuel costs fall. It is called gouging. At the same time, because people are now piling bags on airlines to avoid obscene charges, airlines routinely tell people who are paying to check bags not to use the upper bins for their briefcases or coats. So you are forced to stuff your belongings under your feet so that airlines can continue to pay this baggage fee scheme with passengers.
Jet Blue is interesting in the best positions for legroom on economy seats among the major U.S. airlines since it moved previously to reduce space.
The airlines, particularly United, appear to be working off the premise that by torturing passengers they can get passengers to paid extra for slightly better seats in coach plus. United is particularly aggressive in selling different seats in coach depending on the level of cramping and inconvenience. It is a perverse incentive since the sale of higher priced economy seating depends on how miserable you can make those passengers unwilling to pay more. At this rate, United will be introducing an “Iron Maiden” seat for those insisting on paying the simple economy fair.
Delta and American and US Air are little better of course at 31 inches. My problem is that a 6 foot, I get kneecapped on many flights and I can no longer work in economy because there is no room to open a simple laptop. First class has become what coach once was and coach has become what baggage holds once were on U.S. airlines. This does not even include the terrible food (if you can get it) and aging aircraft. I have found major foreign airlines like Air France to be generally better in terms of comfort.
Here is the space differences:
Delta/America/US Air 31
The measurements are for the smallest configuration in economy seating offered on two common, comparable single-aisle aircraft: the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.