It’s the airline mantra – just get bums in those seats and at least we are not flying at a loss. But how do the bums feel about this? Are they comfortable, squashed, numb, fidgety? It’s all about the seats and that thing they call “pitch”.
(Distance between the back end of a seat and the front end of the seat behind it. Also called leg room. – courtesy of The Business Dictionary).
You won’t easily find this information on airline websites – and if you do please let me know because I looked in vain. That’s why I think Seat Guru is the neatest web site out there and I always consult it when I fly. www.seatguru.com has a list of just about every airline with all of their aircraft and display full seat maps with comments on each seat as to whether it is good, bad or horrible. They have even made it easy by colour coding the seat map. You can also read up some more about seat pitch in this excellent article by David Parker Brown at http://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/04/comparing-airline-seat-pitches-who-has-the-worst/
So it is no surprise that when airlines “cram ‘em in” people get cranky, flight attendants get frustrated and bums get just plain fed up. Would it really make such a difference in the bottom line or the profit margin to airlines if they gave just a couple of inches more leg room?
More airlines are offering Economy Premium or Economy Plus options which are available for an additional cost. And you know what? People are prepared to pay. Well not all people. On a recent KLM flight I had paid the additional fee to upgrade to Premium Economy – $200 per segment for a couple of inches but worth it on a long flight. After take off some cheeky fellow sauntered up to the Premium Economy area and made himself comfortable in one of the unoccupied seats. I could feel every paying passenger around me literally bristle at this audacity. But never fear – the Dutch were on it!
“Excuse me, sir. Can I see your boarding pass? I am sorry sir. Your boarding pass is for the economy seats. This is premium economy. Please return to your allocated seat.”
“Well there’s no-one sitting in this seat. I can’t see why I can’t just sit here. It’s really crowded back there.”
“I am sorry sir. These seats are reserved for passengers who have paid an additional fee for them. Please would you return to your allocated seat.”
“Well it’s very cramped there and I don’t see why I should spend the whole flight in discomfort when there is a perfectly good seat here.”
“You are most welcome to pay the additional fee for the economy premium seat sir. I can process that to your credit card.” (YES!!!)
“No thanks. I have never had such bad service in my life. I will NEVER fly KLM again.” (Good riddance).