Legacy carrier grounds 29-inch seat pitch idea.
Flyers aboard American Airlines have had their voices heard, leading the carrier to stop a plan to dramatically decrease pitch between seats. USA Today reports that the carrier will abandon plans to add more seats to their new Boeing 737-MAX aircraft by reducing space between flyers.
Under the original plan revealed in May 2017, overall pitch would reduce by one inch across economy, with the back three rows reduced to 29 inches. The smaller space would be well under the industry average of approximately 31 inches of seat pitch.
After frequent flyers expressed their concerns about the tighter seating, the airline decided to cancel plans to cut the back three rows to 29 inches of pitch. Seat pitch is measured from the front of the seatback to the back of the seat in front of it.
“It is clear that today, airline customers feel increasingly frustrated by their experiences and less valued when they fly,” the carrier told employees in a communication obtained by USA Today. “We can be leaders in helping to turn around that perception, and that includes reviewing decisions that have significant impact on the flying experience.”
Across the new aircraft, pitch will still reduce by one inch, to a total of 30 inches. With the configuration, the airline can fit up to 172 flyers aboard the airframes when they join the current fleet. Executives claim that passengers won’t feel the squeeze, as the new seats built by Rockwell Collins are thinner and lighter, giving the illusion of more space. Previous passengers have complained that the seats were not comfortable on long-haul flights, citing the lack of cushioning.
This is not the first time American has experienced seat controversies. In 2015, the carrier grounded several new Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the Mojave Desert because of a lack of seats from provider Zodiac Aerospace.