Cattle Call: Airbus and Southwest Moves To Add Even More Seats To Coach

220px-Economy_Seat220px-Boeing_737-2A1_N25SW_Southwest_SAT_17.10.75_edited-2I have previously authored columns and blog entries 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). The includes the planned switch to “bench seating” where passengers are expected to start bringing their own cushions. Despite the rising criticism of airlines making record profits while continuing to strip away every comfort, there is a new report that Southwest is now turning its back on passengers. The airline and Airbus are going to stuff another seat into coach class with new A380 superjumbo carriers.

The Airbus A380 currently seats 10 passengers in an economy row with a 3-4-3 configuration. The new layout would add an extra seat to the middle row, squeezing people into a 3-5-3 configuration. While the seats are expected to remain in the same width of 18 inches, those seats are already too small and the move will pump up the number of passengers from 525 passengers to 544 passengers. Once critic posted this picture:


This is truly becoming absurd when you look at such pictures. What is clear is that the airlines have succeeded in changing the expectations of passengers where any comfort is extra as well as adding charges for basic elements of travel. I am in San Francisco this week and paid extra to get a couple inches more of legroom in coach so that my knees were not pressed against the seat in front of me and I could actually open my computer on an over five hour flight. I also sat through a United Airlines commercial on the flight that advertised how its credit card will save you money . . . by waiving the outrageous baggage charges that the airline has tacked on to your ticket. So, just to keep up, United imposes a huge baggage fee due to fuel costs. Yet, after fuel costs fell, they kept the charge and now use the threat of the charge to get you to use their credit card.

A recent report shows airlines plunging in passenger satisfaction and accommodations. However, it does not matter. There is clear coordination among the airlines in a rush to the bottom to reduce the expectations of passengers. Yet, while these companies get a host of legislative benefits and support, it remains a one way street. Industry lobbyists remain extremely powerful in Congress and have been adept at cutting off any serious effort to address the abusive treatment of passengers. I am not a fan of adding regulations but it would be good to see more aggressive investigation into coordination behavior and inflated price allegations.

Clearly, there will remain a growth in the cattle-car model of low-cost flying. However, there has to be more coverage and support for those airlines acting responsibly as we did recently on the difference in space and charges.

88 thoughts on “Cattle Call: Airbus and Southwest Moves To Add Even More Seats To Coach”

  1. There is a world of difference between a crying baby (in my opinion up to two years old) and a screaming tantrum throwing child. One cannot be reasoned with. The other can and SHOULD be able to be controlled. If nothing else. Get up and haul your screaming kid into the bathroom where at least they can be less obnoxious to other people. Show some attempt to quiet and comfort the child.

    I do know that children may experience more discomfort in flying because it is difficult to equalize the ear pressure and they can be in pain. YOu can’t explain this to a baby who only wants you to make it stop. There is medication that may (with a doctor’s prescription of course) help mitigate that.

    However, catering to a squalling brat that is NOT a baby and calling her a little princess is not the best way to parent and would frankly irritate me more than the screaming kid.

  2. Ingannie

    She’s somewhat of a celebrity. She’s the woman who filmed her bath in a bathtub filled with milk and cereal, which she posted online. The insane part? Well, she did have a one on one meeting with Obama. Nuf said.

    He saw fit to meet with GloZell, but not with Netanyahu. Go figure. This he met with.

  3. The lady in the video looks a bit insane with all the winking and grimacing.

  4. Bam bam, I do not give a rats behind if a baby screams. I think anyone who has had children of their own and grandchildren are not going to get twisted in a knot if a baby cries. Babies are human too and most parents do their damnedest to quiet the baby.

  5. Ingannie

    This one’s for you, and, no, I am not secretly GloZell. Honestly.

    Seriously, who cares about a screaming baby? Yeah, right.

  6. @bam bam

    Oh, that and the New Dentist video were hilarious! Maybe METV will rerun that show for people my age. Nowadays, they could not even go 9 minutes 45 seconds without at least two commercial breaks. No wonder there is sooo much ADD stuff.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  7. Seriously who cares about a screaming baby? It’s not your kid and not your responsibility to keep it quiet. Give the poor parents a break, it’s tough traveling with small children and babies. Nothing worse than sitting next to a creep, who feels like he needs to lean in to speak to you. As if things weren’t cozy enough.

  8. @Pogo

    Versed??? Oh, LOL!!! Let me play Ogden Nash for a skosh!

    Plane Folks???
    A Short Ogden Nashy Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    A flight with Martinis well nurse-ed. . .
    Or, hopped up on Valium and Versed.
    On those, I could soar . . .
    But alas, nevermore!
    Which makes airline travel the worse-ed!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  9. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Imagine, this was in the 1970’s.

  10. As long as we’re discussing surcharges, double for chatty people, and triple for people who do not have good personal hygiene.

  11. I flew from New Orleans to Saint Louis recently on some airline whose name will remain unnamed. There was a huge fat belly guy in the middle of three seats. There were old ladies on either side. He began letting out huge farts soon after takeoff and this continued. One old lady went to the restroom and never came out until they announced landing. The other one cornered the Captain after a long wait when he disembarked and read him the riot act.

    I recommend Greyhound Bus. If the trip is over a thousand miles re think whether you really want to fly. The price of gas for cars is going down.

  12. bam bam

    NRA, porn, it’s all the same stuff. For me, he’s Wayne LaPeter.

    As far as screaming babies go, that, I can accept. It’s the stupid parents who expose everyone to their lack of skills. If a kid, by the age of three can’t behave, the parent should be charged for all the drinks of the rest of the passengers.

  13. Nick Spinelli said…

    If they charge by weight, Wisconsin flights will be the most expensive in the country.


    Issac said …

    Having had my fun, yes the government does have a responsibility here. The airways are the domain of the people, just as is the highway system.

    Glad to know you misspelling of Wayne LaPierre’s name was all in fun. He is the least of your worries as you no doubt well know. Worry more about septuagenarians like me 🙂

    bam bam said…

    I just want to know what the additional surcharge will be for screaming babies?

    Screaming babies I can mange to ignore…it’s the 2-4 year olds that run all over the place I don’t much like. “Yes, mam, you kid is cute…now please tie him/her down in his seat and don’t let him kick the seat in front of him/her or spew spit from yelling on other folks not so enamored.”

    I’d always make exceptions for military families traveling because they usually didn’t have the option of leaving cutesy pie “Chuckie” or ” Nancy” at home.

    My brother once said he’d pay extra for a no kid flight, just like he would for a no smoking and no booze flight. As a frequent flier before retirement, I sympathized with that idea….even though I was still a smoker. It was the no kid part I liked.

    All said and done, I flew in commercial Beechcraft 99’s frequently…and even with their cramped 18 seat space, the seats were better and I had more leg room….and I had no un-bathed stinky huge dude or lady next to me….and no obnoxious mob at the baggage claim either. The latest seat set ups on large aircraft are nuts. On some intra-country flights I am pretty sure I could buy two seats for less than the price of first class. Hmmmm.

  14. If the airlines gave us all IVs and Versed they could stack us 3 high and 10 deep.

    Sure, you’d lose a few customers here and there when they stop breathing, but there’ll always be more.

  15. Oh, I love that song!

    Me too!. I can just feel myself on a slow and leisurely horse ride through the high desert on a beautiful sunny day. Rocking gently in the saddle, becoming one with the pace of the horse, smelling the sage brush, hearing the birds and other peaceful sounds of nature.

    The airlines should play this, give everyone a cocktail (or two) and a low dose muscle relaxant, set the seats to a slowly rocking motion, pipe in some of those beautiful prairie smells and a few twittering bird sounds. Everyone relaxes, goes into nap mode (except for the screaming babies….I don’t think we should give them a cocktail, but maybe a valium would help). You won’t even notice the fat slob next to you slobbering in his/her sleep and you might even be able to use their corpulence as a nice soft pillow, since the airlines are too cheap to give you a real one


  16. @Pogo

    LOL on the pictures!


    Oh, I love that song!

    Sooo anyway, airlines aren’t the only people trying to squeeze more stuff into the same space. So are some TV networks:

    It was Courtney Cox who noticed that a re-run of “Friends” made her voice sound funny, it was coming at her a little higher and faster than she remembered, according to CBS News. Cox said “My voice sounds so different because I think they speed it up a little bit, they speed it up a few frames to get another commercial in there,” Cox told Conan O’Brien a while back.

    It turns out that Cox was right, she hit the nail on the head before most people experiencing this slight fast-forward mode even noticed. One man watching “The Wizard of Oz” on TBS recently noticed the Munchkins were singing in a pitch even higher than he remembered.

    When the shows are put on an almost undetectable fast-forward, the voices sound higher than usual. Not only TBS, but TNT and TV Land have done what is known in the industry as “compressed” TV shows. This is an effort for the networks to make up for “declining ad revenue and declining viewership,” reports Fox.

    So what is the benefit of “compressed” TV shows? The bottom line of course is money! This speeding up of TV shows leaves more room for commercials and more commercials bring in more revenue, it is as simple as that.

    Sooo, being an imaginative person, I wondered what would happen to airline piped in music if there was a midair collision between those two worlds??? Maybe:

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

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