Lamentations of an industry I once loved (also published on LinkedIn)

Posted: September 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

I worked in the airline business (Eastern) for nearly a decade. Sometimes, I miss it. But I DO NOT like what has become of the industry, whether a “legacy” carrier or one that hasn’t been around long enough to be considered legacy. Notwithstanding the insane air fares and “fees, fees, all them FEES,” we are now witnessing travelers’ patience starting to fracture as the airlines continue to shrink “seat pitch*.” The airlines, in their drive for more revenue, jam as many passengers into the coach cabin as possible, have reduced seat pitch to a point to where if you’re a six-footer traveling on a cross country flight, you will probably have a very uncomfortable ride. Add to that the passenger in front of you who incessantly slams into your knees to recline their seat as if going to bed for the night and the kid behind you who insists on using your seat as a tree to climb, and it’s not hard to see why we have a sudden spike in air rage incidents. You’ve probably seen them recently reported in the national media, so I needn’t rehash them here. Once upon a time, you could sit in an airline seat and actually cross your legs—in coach!—but now, you feel worse than sardines in a can. A well-known airline analyst, Robert Mann, said it best, in a Daily Beast article, “It’s like rats in a maze. At a certain point they start eating each other.”

I don’t anticipate airline execs’ being clobbered aside their collective heads with a sudden sense of benevolence, under which they might increase seat pitch, so in the absence of that level of sanity, it might be time to consider locking the seats so they no longer recline. If you’d like to see a list of all the carriers (domestic and international), and their respective seat pitch—for all classes of service, click here.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I certainly don’t have a beef with the airlines earning a profit. In fact, when I look at the days when I worked in the industry, most lost money…in the billions! But it stands to reason that there could be a better balance in profitability, while maintaining a comfortable on-board environment for passengers.

I don’t travel as much as I used to, but many of my friends still do, and some travel a lot, so this subject should resonate with many of you. Feel free to share your thoughts…and keep calm when flying the “friendly” skies!

*Seat Pitch (as defined by Skytrax)

This is the distance between a row of seats – the measurement from the same position on two seats, one behind the other – it is NOT the legroom area as some believe. (For example, the back face of the seat in front of you, measured to the same point on the back face of the seat you are sitting in).

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