American said to cut legroom further

Email to a Friend

To our complete lack of surprise, airlines continue to stick it to consumers—even as Congress threatens to act if airlines don’t improve their customer service.

According to a report by CNN, American Airlines will cut the pitch, which is the front-to-back space that’s between rows of seats, on economy seats in certain airplanes. This will occur on American’s Boeing 737 Max airplanes, so the airline can add 10 seats to the 160-seat aircraft.

The change will decrease the pitch to 29 inches of depth from 31 inches on three rows of the airplane. The pitch on the rest of the economy section will decrease to 30 inches.

This change will make it so the pitch is almost on par with that of low-cost carriers (LCCs) Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines, which have an industry minimum of 28 inches of depth.

Henry Harteveldt who is the co-founder of Atmosphere Research Group, which is a travel-industry research company, says this move makes American more vulnerable to competition from LCCs.

“The differences between American and low-fare airlines erode every day,” he tells Consumers Digest.

Harteveldt says United is considering a similar move. (It already has seats that have a 30-inch pitch.)

American’s fares won’t be reduced for its tighter rows of seats, and those seats won’t be included in its new basic economy fares that sell for less, which don’t allow for access to overhead bins, CNN says. Its tighter airplanes will go into service later in 2017.

American’s move comes as airlines, which include American and United, were called before a House committee hearing after United forcibly removed a passenger from a flight in April 2017. Several representatives from both political parties threatened legislative action unless the airlines improve their customer service, but Harteveldt says Congress won’t act.

“Congress is toothless right now.”

You can read more about how the industry piles it on in “Airline Excess: Nonstop.”