Editorial: Airlines neglecting customer comfort

NewLuxuryModel.jpgFlying in an airplane these days is a major hassle and relief is not on its way.

Major United States airline companies are removing old, hefty seats in airplane models and replacing them with slimline model seats that will take up less space from front to back.

This overhaul in airplane seats will allow for five to six more seats on each plane. What this means is even less personal space on airplanes will be available for passengers.

The new seats will be lighter, but passengers will be even more crammed for space. As if flying weren’t already uncomfortable, it’s only going to get worse.

The new floor layout with lighter seats and more seats will shrink the size of the aisle. Passengers seated in the aisle should be ready for more shoulder bumps from luggage, people and the service carts.

The reason airlines can get away with penny-pinching and further decreasing comfort is because customers have nowhere else to turn. With no alternatives, airline passengers are forced to endure the discomfort and inconveniences of air travel.

The airlines are trying to make all of these changes in a discrete fashion. Southwest’s 737s have thinner seatback magazine pockets. Alaska Airlines has smaller tray tables.

In the Airbus A320s from United Airlines, the new seats are going to be an inch closer together from front to back.

In Southwest’s new design, the seats are 31 inches apart, which is roughly an inch closer than Southwest’s previous model.

The obvious reason airlines are making these changes, in spite of the passenger’s comfort, is because it will boost the bottom line economically for corporate airline titans.

United’s new seats are 1,200 pounds lighter. Southwest says it is saving about $10 million per year in fuel spending as a result of these new seats.

When airlines are already succeeding commercially, at what point is it reckless and purposeless to diminish passenger comfort only to save some money? What happened to the belief that the customer always comes first?

Considering the frustrations and hassles of going through TSA and then being cramped in a minuscule cabin with hundreds of other people, why must airline travel be so inconvenient?

Not only is flying physically uncomfortable, but it puts a strong strain on the wallet. In coach, passengers have to pay extra just to purchase a meal or to buy on-plane entertainment systems.

Shouldn’t the price of food already be included in an expensive airline ticket?

Sitting next to complete strangers in close quarters is awkward, distressing, vexatious and wearisome. Why can’t customers enjoy a reasonable amount of comfort without forking over the big bucks to sit in first class?

Being in an airplane naturally dehydrates the human body because of the depressurized air. So airlines compound the problem by serving beverages in 5-ounce cups. Five ounces of water will not relieve thirst for a multiple-hour flight and it does not adequately nourish the human body.

It’s understandable that airlines need to make a profit. But do they have to continue to nickel and dime customers while still making flying more and more of an uncomfortable ordeal?

Boeing’s new 787 was originally expected to have eight seats across per row, but now United Airlines uses Boeing’s 787 with nine seats across. Each seat is just 17.3 inches wide. Flying is a less than enjoyable task these days. At what point will airline customers demand a better, more comfortable travel environment?