Cattle Car Carriers: American Airlines To Slash Legroom For Passengers

250px-american_airlines_logosvg600px-Unloading_a_stock_car_revAmerican Airlines  has decided to dispense with any semblance of being a quality airline and will slash another two inches from economy class seats despite rising complaints of the already painfully cramped conditions.  The airline is effectively boasting to investors that it will stuff more seats on its planes while charging passengers in economy to buy the necessary leg room to be remotely comfortable.  United is also planning to join the cattle call and reduce legroom, though it might make dragging passengers from planes a bit more difficult.  The reduction at American will put it close to the infamous Spirit Airline in terms of cramped, uncomfortable conditions.

The airline is adding the seats to its flying cattle cars also known as 737 Max jetliners. The “Max” must be an industry joke since it represents the minimum space one can give a human being without be charged with criminal assault.  American will shrink its seats from 31 inches to 29 inches on three rows of the airplane.  It main cabin will be reduced to 30-inches.


Just in case any passengers try to go to the bathroom for a little more space, forget about it. American is also slashing the space in the bathrooms which are already too small for anyone but a hobbit to fit into.

Just for the record, there are two airlines that continue to buck the trend and offer people a small amount of space — and dignity. They are Jet Blue at 34 inches and Virgin at 32 inches.

By the way, profits have never been better and fuel costs are low. So this is just callous profiteering at the cost of passengers.


106 thoughts on “Cattle Car Carriers: American Airlines To Slash Legroom For Passengers”

  1. Airlines usually have different seat options available for those who want to pay for extra leg room. American Airlines actually has four different seat types: Main Cabin Extra, Preferred Seats, Elite, and Standard.

    Pick an exit row seat for more legroom. Some airlines are charging extra for this now.

    I have been spoiled with business class offering lay flat seats for many years now, so it is hard for me to get all worked up about the lowest fare economy seats losing 2 inches. In fact, the last time I flew in coach the legroom was much more than I expected. I could have fit a small bag under the seat in front of me and still had plenty of room to stretch my legs.

    If you want help picking out which seats are best for a particular flight, you might try visiting

    1. Again, passenger-miles per person flown have increased 2.25 fold since deregulation. While we’re at it, disagreeable exchanges between airline personnel and passengers were not in 1977 posted on Youtube within 48 hours.

        1. Out of stupidity, they did not block them from boarding. Also out of stupidity, they did not hold an auction to induce voluntary departures when they concluded they had to remove passengers. They also like to compensate people in illiquid funny money rather than cash. I tend to doubt regulatory mandates (rather than bureaucratic inertia) are behind any of these bad decisions.

  2. no, no, no….AA and other airlines offer extra legroom. Yes, it costs more. Mercedes cost more than Toyotas. As Pogo said “…the enemy is us” WE shop almost entirely for the cheapest fare…and then we complain. Yes, this discriminates against tall people…which they have no control over; but tall people have been shown to attain higher paying jobs than short people.
    As Louis C.K. said in the most enlightened sketch ever:
    “People, you are FLYING THROUGH THE AIR!!! You should be overjoyed!”

    1. You confuse luxury and opulence with basic, minimum standards. Not all cars have leather, handcrafted seats, but all cars have seats that meet certain basic standards. If car manufacturers are incapable of meeting those certain basic, minimum standards, in their products, then they can’t sell those products on the market. Those products are deemed to dangerous and unsafe unless those MINIMUM standards are met. The total and complete lack of any sort of legroom, in a confined space, on a commercial plane, should cross the line of failing to meet basic, minimum standards. Note, no one is complaining about the bag of peanuts, tossed at one’s head, and served as lunch, in coach. If one wants that meal, one will pay for that luxury, if one can call airline food a luxury. No one is griping about the lack of amenities found in first class. We get it. One pays for those extras. The point is that enough room, between seats, to minimize the risk of dying from a DVT, isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity, and the airlines should be made to comply with some basic standards.

  3. At this rate we might need flight insurance. You pay an annual premium and should you “need” to fly, you file a claim to offset the additional cost for first class. Those with pre-existing conditions (frequent flyers), pay a higher premium.

  4. Aside from the discomfort and the catastrophic possibility of DVTs, isn’t there a point at which the loss of space, provided between the seats, hampers the ability of the passengers to exit the aircraft in a quick and orderly manner in the case of an emergency? The loss of that extra room, for one’s legs, has got to impact the speed and ability to rise from the seat and leave the plane. At what point do the airlines get held to account for not complying with the basic minimum in safety and/or health regulations? Just like image of the passenger, bloodied and beaten into submission, dragged down the isle of a plane and spread, all over the world, made United do an about-face with regard to its policies and forced the entire airline industry to stand at attention, the same widespread PR nightmare could do the same with regard to the plans to further decrease seat space. The problem is that not enough people know about the plans to diminish leg room, yet again, for the flying public. A video, going viral, touting the insanity of this plan, would work wonders in preventing it. Who is up for helping me create it?

  5. Flying to a destination used to be my first choice. Now it’s driving. That is the evolution of many airline customers. Southwest treats its employees and passengers the best.

    1. “Southwest treats its employees and passengers the best.” I’ve heard this too. I chatted at family reunion with a Southwest pilot, who was completely happy with his job. He had no complaints whatsoever.

      1. Steve, I can tell hotels, restaurants, airlines, etc. who treat their employees righteously. Those employees then treat customers righteously. That’s one of the things I always notice. I just can’t turn it off!!

    2. Nick, I fly Southwest whenever possible – love the friendly vibe and customer service. I have a friend who works for them in a “lowly” baggage handler management position and they treat him right – unusual for a corporation – don’t they usually just look out for execs? Decent pay and benefits and he even gets “buddy passes” to share with family and friends – stand by, but still!

  6. As I’ve been saying for so many years, you could stack them like slabs in a morgue and they’d line up around the block to buy tickets. Then brag to their friends about what a great deal they got.
    People are willing to put up with this. They demonstrate that every day. They are willing to eat shit. And so they do.

    1. The customer experience including the benefits/cost trade-off matters a great deal for profits. Here is a different approach from JetBlue, which I fly whenever possible.

    2. Airlines are a Bertrand oligopoly. Profit margins are low absent cartelization.

  7. First class is still relatively comfortable. However, I have been considering flying private.I know it’s expensive but since I am retired this seems like a better alternative than estate planning and leaving it all to the relatives

  8. Pretty soon the airlines will remove all seats and passengers will have to stand for the entire flight while holding on to an overhead strap! Think of how many people they could cram onto a plane using that method!!!!

  9. I just sigh when I look at the old YouTube videos of airline travel before deregulation. I wonder when the airlines will spray passengers with olive oil, so that more sardines can get packed into the can…

    I last flew in 2009, and expect to never do so again. (When Midwest Airlines shut down – the last comfortable air carrier) Anything up to 1000 miles, I drive. Over that, I don’t go. Exotic foreign scenery, I look on YouTube.

    1. And I guess the airlines could introduce special narrower seats with even less legroom, and market them to people less than 5’5 who weigh less than 140 lbs, mostly women and kids. Or use the idea that RyanAir was considering in Europe, of having “standees.”

  10. “The airline is adding the seats to its flying cattle cars also known as 737 Max jetliners.”

    Clearly the “Max” has nothing to do whatsoever with customer satisfaction. Think profit.

  11. There is a limit to how much abuse people will pay for. In SF the Muni and the BART removed seats and lost many riders who removed themselves from those transit systems. The airlines have gone too far. I no longer want to fly and I used to fly a lot. If enough people quit flying they will not need the extra seats. next they will want to get rid of the staff and that will include the pilot.

  12. Thankfully, many young people traveled extensively in the 1960’s-80’s when it was fun, interesting, and comfortable. Now it makes more sense to be an arm-chair traveler. Let Rick Steves and Joseph Rosendo do the cramped sitting, the body searches, the flight delays and being removed from one’s seat. Online meetings and online education can easily replace the need to travel. Let the airlines go out of business just as retail stores are doing. Virtual travel is better.

    1. It was ‘fun’ because novel. The average person in 1970 flew 534 passenger-miles per year. That’s round trip New York-Chicago about 4x in an 11 years span of time. As late as 1978, about 55% of the passenger-miles were logged by business travelers. Household travel for enjoyment amounted to one such trip about once every six years for the average family. For a wage-earning family, a plane trip was more along the lines of a once-a-decade event.

    1. Passenger-miles per capita increased by 2.25 fold between 1975 and 2015. Air travel is unpleasant (and wasn’t too pleasant in 1975), but it’s much more accessible than it once was.

  13. I am hoping that the market place takes care of this as flyers decide to drive or fly on other airlines.

      1. You’ve been driving to Europe and Asia since 2010?

        But that’s a nit, because the fact is that the marketplace is already taking care of the problem: all you have to do is fly First Class. Plenty of leg room, great food and service. And furthermore, as we all know, anyone who wishes can start up their own airline. Maybe you should have done that back in 2010, but it’s never too late.

        1. According to your flawed theory, do you want to make coach passengers pay extra for oxygen, just so they can breathe, as well? Are you going to make some absurd comment about how if they want it, like those in first class have access to it, that they should pay for it? Mind you, coach passengers ARE, in fact, paying for their tickets. Maybe those tickets don’t come with the most comfortable seat, a meal on china or a hot towel with which to wipe their faces, but we are talking about stationary seating, which prevents the user from even a minimal amount of movement, over extended periods of time. Such restricted leg movement has been proven to increase the chance of deadly DVTs, so, this isn’t about a decision to pay for luxury. It’s about a modicum of standards. You confuse that with luxury.

          1. I thought the first line of my reply of my reply to ‘Riesling’ would make it clear that I was being satirical. That’s all that libertarian idiocy deserves.

            1. Read some of the comments here. There are those arguing that one must pay for luxury, which, in this case, is the ability to avoid acquiring a DVT.

              1. I know. I guess libertarianism is so extreme and ridiculous that it can’t be satirized. That bit about starting up one’s own airline is something I read here before. Sorry, bam bam, have a nice day.

          2. According to your flawed theory, do you want to make coach passengers pay extra for oxygen, just so they can breathe, as well?

            If they couldn’t breathe during the trip, they wouldn’t get on the plane. If the cost is sitting in a cramped seat, it’s about trade-offs.

            The point of analogies is to illuminate, not to make yourself look silly.

            1. Analogies are lost on you because you are lost. Understand that one?

        2. No, yyy. I fly Lufthansa or Icelandair from Europe to the US. Then drive rental cars to my destination. Not taking domestic US carriers ever again.

  14. Rapid passenger deplaning is in the works at American Airline’s Skunk Works.

  15. The executives, making these decisions, need to have two inches removed from them. No anesthesia.

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