Things That Tick Me Off: The Ever Rising Profits For Airline Companies and The Ever Shrinking Space For Airline Passengers

220px-Spirit_Airlines_N587NK220px-United_Airlines_-_N14219_-_Flickr_-_skinnylawyer_(1)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:

JetBlue 34

Virgin/Southwest 32

Delta/America/US Air 31

United 30

Spirit 28

The measurements are for the smallest configuration in economy seating offered on two common, comparable single-aisle aircraft: the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.


107 thoughts on “Things That Tick Me Off: The Ever Rising Profits For Airline Companies and The Ever Shrinking Space For Airline Passengers”

  1. In CA, Metrolink has lost over half a million passengers since 2008, forcing it to decide whether to trim service or increase fares (which are already expensive.)

    In a competitive environment (unlike the airline monopolies), private industry responds to the market, trying to meet customer’s needs. Only the government would look at falling ridership, and sink astronomical taxpayer funds into building a whole new train system that is projected to have even LOWER ridership.

    Well, only government and wasteful Liberals. They just waive their hands in the air and assume a “miracle will happen” and money will just come from “somewhere” to pay for all of their pet projects without taking money away from anything else. Someone must have a few dimes to rub together, right? Well, tax him!

  2. I think Guv Moonbeam is losing it. Seriously. He’s always been a space cadet, but I sense some Reagan like Alzheimer’s.

  3. rafflaw:

    “It was smooth, quiet and fast. It was a pleasure riding it. We need trains like that here in the states.”

    Awesome. You should volunteer a HSR train to be built next to your house, since you won’t mind the noise and up to 20 trains an hour. And, surely, you won’t complain that we have no more money for crucial programs because we just wasted $68 billion dollars (and that estimate is rising) on a vacation train for the leisure class. And you can sit for hours in gridlock all day long, on potholed roads, because we blew our money on a vacation train.

    Enjoy it with good cheer! Unless, that is, such sacrifices are only for “other people”.

  4. Gov Jerry Brown was interviewed on the radio. He was unable to defend the spiraling costs, and was forced to admit that HSR made no financial sense whatsoever. But he said, sometimes, society just has a to “reach for it.”

  5. Here is a paper on the noise by the HSR authority, itself. It’s been guilty of fudging the facts in its favor on every topic, but even it estimates that it will be noisier than a regular train. Please note that the maximum noise levels are estimated for no more than 20 TRAINS AN HOUR. Won’t that be great? They’re building track nowhere near existing track, in many areas. So people sink their life savings into homes to have a bullet train installed nearby so that people can vacation in SF.

    CA is too spread out for rail to be a valid option. Ridership is estimated to be low, and the costs are spiraling out of control.

    Rapid transit makes sense in SF, NY, and other dense hubs. Otherwise, it’s simply a waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere.

    It’s just graft for the unions.

  6. Well, this is apropos. Metro link had an accident in CA when a truck was stuck on the tracks. It had enough time to slow from 79 mph, but emergency crews still said it was a miracle that 30 people were injured, instead of dead.

    Hmmmmmmm. Wonder what would have happened if it was a bullet train at 200 mph.

    The worst train disasters in history have been high speed trains in Europe.

  7. Yes, CA had a train crash in Oxnard. From LA. I think it’s the all-day to SF with many stops. The country seems to be having more train crashes. I’m suspicious about that.

  8. Inga, what would rider usage have been? Convenient for some, probably. But is it just more money from DC? And, does it require matching dollars from both states? If it meant more money from the state taxpayers, good for Walker.

    We have two in CA. One from LA to SF and from LA to Las Vegas. Who is going to ride these things? I have no idea. Brown doesn’t worry about the taxpayers. That’s why so many companies and individuals are leaving. Even NY is offering good tax deals to companies moving there. They took the idea from Texas, where lots of CA went.

    Do you think the people of Wisconsin are OK with paying more taxes? I know CA isn’t happy about it.

  9. What regulations forced Henry Ford to do this….

    “On this day in 1926, Ford Motor Company becomes one of the first companies in America to adopt a five-day, 40-hour week for workers in its automotive factories. The policy would be extended to Ford’s office workers the following August.

    Henry Ford’s Detroit-based automobile company had broken ground in its labor policies before. In early 1914, against a backdrop of widespread unemployment and increasing labor unrest, Ford announced that it would pay its male factory workers a minimum wage of $5 per eight-hour day, upped from a previous rate of $2.34 for nine hours (the policy was adopted for female workers in 1916). The news shocked many in the industry–at the time, $5 per day was nearly double what the average auto worker made–but turned out to be a stroke of brilliance, immediately boosting productivity along the assembly line and building a sense of company loyalty and pride among Ford’s workers.

    The decision to reduce the workweek from six to five days had originally been made in 1922. According to an article published in The New York Times that March, Edsel Ford, Henry’s son and the company’s president, explained that “Every man needs more than one day a week for rest and recreation….The Ford Company always has sought to promote [an] ideal home life for its employees. We believe that in order to live properly every man should have more time to spend with his family.”

    Henry Ford said of the decision: “It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either ‘lost time’ or a class privilege.” At Ford’s own admission, however, the five-day workweek was also instituted in order to increase productivity: Though workers’ time on the job had decreased, they were expected to expend more effort while they were there. Manufacturers all over the country, and the world, soon followed Ford’s lead, and the Monday-to-Friday workweek became standard practice.”

    Progressives just hate to let free market capitalism work.

  10. Most western cities are slow to expand lite rail and bullet train systems, yet they are probably environmentally a worthwhile investment. It’s true they don’t make money, but the purpose is to transport people, not make money

    THIS right here is what is wrong with Government and having a bunch of clueless government bureaucrats and boot licking lackeys in charge of OUR money. Government activities should be budgeted to make money, to at least pay for the enterprise. Setting out to massively lose money seems to be the government’s modus operandi. And this is why we have trillions of dollars of deficits and are basically bankrupt as a nation.

    The money that the government spends is pried from OUR pockets and then squandered in schemes that are guaranteed to not even come close to being property funded…..thus requiring MORE money to be extorted from the general public and squandered some more. Payola to lobbyists, unions and other special interest.

    Someone upstream (Wade) asked why a bullet train or railway system such as in the East Coast would not work in the West. I answered…..but of course….crickets…..and change the subject.

    1. Distance traveled: The east has short hops from bedroom communities to urban areas. Closely and densely packed pockets of people who all want to go to and fro to the same location. The west has widely scattered populations and many more miles.

    2. Ridership: the Eastern railway system can count on a steady group of commuters who will ride their trains on a daily basis going to and fro on a daily basis. The western system, from SF to LA would have occasional travelers and NOT be a daily commuter’s ride. This creates an uneven cash flow because there is not a guarantee that the trains will ever have a full ridership going both directions. Talk to a long haul trucker about “dead heading”.

    Ridership will be mostly people who are going ONE way only. Or who will have an uncertain amount of days between the return ride. Tourist and pleasure riders. Do not create guaranteed cash flow.

    No guaranteed cash flow means economic disaster. But that doesn’t matter since there is an unending source of money in the taxpayer base…..right? (that was sarcasm)

    3. It isn’t really a “bullet” train: Results will not be as advertised! There will be many stops along the way making it just a regular old slow train ride. A slow ride that will cost MORE than just driving,

    4. This is the West. People would rather drive than deal with the hassle and COST. It will cost more to ride and you have less freedom.

    What works in Europe, which is a very tiny place and densely populated compared to the West. What works in the East coast…..ditto….ain’t gonna work.

    But….we get this jammed down our throats anyway because the Government can waste our money and is not accountable.

    A business man would look at this venture, crunch the numbers and say…No thanks…I don’t want to go bankrupt.

    The Government sees unicorns and rainbows and proceeds to shake us down and rifle through our couch cushions for more money.

  11. Bailers, Milwaukee to Minneapolis is a boondoggle that was thankfully aborted.

  12. Progressives love the choo choo’s. Forward, to the 18th century. We are not Europe. We are much bigger, w/ huge expanses of sparsely populated people. No American knew Europe better than Ike. He built the interstate system, understanding on a profound level, we are not Europe. There is a LIMITED opportunity for HIGH SPEED FEW STOP rail service in a few corridors. LA to Vegas is maybe @ the top of the list. Most of the choo choo’s progressives want are boondoggles. The light rails are a bust. I’m waiting for the Jetson’s cars. I look forward, not backwards. I guess I’m the progressive.

  13. Inga,
    We all know that after the novelty wore off the link between Milwaukee and Minneapolis would be hardly used. There already is a train, and it’s barely used. Are there really that many people that daily want to make that trip? Same goes with the Milwaukee – Madison. Go hang out at the Intermodal station. Other than the daily commuters I’d hardly call that place packed. Ever.

    High speed still has one major problem: traffic. There was talk of making a high speed rail between Milwaukee and Chicago. It would save about 10 minutes. Once you get to Rosecrans Road you’re in Metra territory. And you just became a local. High speed only works in wide open spaces. And in this country why take the train when you can drive?

  14. boring history lesson above. Mr. Turley….i used to blame it on the drier. Are you sure the seats are getting smaller? Ok even if they are are the using the ‘ideal’ bmi_ impossible body size? Most us aren’t fat cats and don’t give a shite if your seat is too small. Most us quit flying cuz the tsa. We’ll keep payng for the faa so evergreens replacements can keep delivering cargo. But you got balls and aren’t exactly starving. So just pay for a bigger seat. I get a kick out of your progressive liberal sharing but the fact is….we tax payers fund the faa and infrastrucutre and bail out airlines bc they are part of the dod shii hit the fan plan….yet we all rarely fly. I have no sympathy. Drier malfunction or not. Just buy a better seat. You can afford it.if you can afford to fly and complain. Ppl who have to fly for emergency or wot not …will just be glad to getther. They’d probably even stand like on a subway.

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