Boeing Adds Seats to 737 Max 8

Boeing 737 MAX 8

There was a time when hell was a stylish shoe. Now it’s the new variant of the 737 Max 8. Boeing says they’re adding 11 knee-scrapping seats, shoehorning us to a place where physical experience is the only reality.

I find the skinny woman in the crowd and invite her to sit down. That’s what one frequent flyer does when heading to a middle seat on Southwest Airlines’ open seating.

At least that’s what passenger Steven Ekovich told Bloomberg News in a story headlined “Get More Acquainted With Your Knees as Boeing Reworks 737.”

In the you-can’t-be-serious category, right up there with breaking the sound barrier, Boeing announced at the Farnborough Air Show that they’re adding 11 seats to the economy cabin of a new variant of the single-aisle 737 Max 8, bringing the total to around 200 seats.

Interior decorating has become rock-hard science as carriers reshape lavatories and galleys and then, Lego-like, retrofit diaper-thin seats to shave inches between rows.

Up in the front of the aircraft, business class is a catchphrase for flatbed seats, big-screen video and enough room to park a car.

A Boeing spokeswoman at Farnborough said “it’s up to the airlines to determine how to configure the plane to add the extra two rows.” And if they do, carriers must add an extra exit door to meet regulations.

“With this, we’re just giving our customers another option to make more revenue,” she told Bloomberg in a slap-the-forehead-and-feel-grateful tone. “If their routes can take this additional capacity, then that’s more revenue for them.”

And you can bet the name Ryanair came up. The jam-packed variant 737 seems custom-made for all-economy airlines in Europe and Asia.

One aviation consultant even went so low to defend the extra seats by saying “Boeing may find more patience for tighter spaces in Asia, which has many short-haul carriers and a population that is generally smaller in stature than in its home market.”

In other words, sub in a lesser talent.

Spirit Airlines with a “leg-cramping 28-inch pitch in their single-aisle Airbus jets, compared with an industry standard 30 or 31 inches” seem to have set the basement benchmark. Boeing said airlines could add 11 seats to the new 737 Max 8 variant without dropping to 27 inches.

“It is so austere that it would be even beyond the pale of Spirit,” the consultant said.

Southwest Airlines, who are the launch customer for the 737 Max 8 in 2017, told Bloomberg they’ll stay with “its current 175-seat configuration in its largest 737s.”

Tweaking seat numbers is not a new game. Boeing’s popular 777 wide-body jets are often flown with ten seats across that don’t much recline. Airlines also narrow seats by an inch while appeasing us with USB ports and Wi-Fi. It’s not so much a seat as a margin for error.

And now, acting as if they should be out on a ledge somewhere, engineers at Airbus want to patent a fold-down bicycle-like seat to cram in passengers. A flight across the ocean and you’d look like you just came off a week at the Canyon Ranch Spa.

The thrifty idea must make Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary salivate with want.

The Tarmac’s View: Let’s not forget Airbus is adding nine seats to its popular single-aisle A320neo, bringing the total to 189 aggressively priced seats. On the great slow arc of the polar route, like most everywhere else, we get what we pay for. Caveat emptor. There’s no warning light.


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Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • 777 global mile hound at 3:43pm July 18, 2014

    I already refuse to fly Americans new a 321 transcon in coach at any cost
    Good luck to them with 200 seats and the new 27 inch benchmark
    They will go belly up one day which will be fine with me
    I wont be on any such plane ever

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