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Is American Squeezing Passengers to Death?

American Airlines is making broad changes throughout their economy cabin – starting with rolling out Premium Economy on international routes, to tightening basic economy seats. Executives claim their moves will help customers make the most of their flying time, but some are skeptical about the true motives.

Since their merger with US Airways, American Airlines wants to convert flyers with new aircraftnew products and further segmented cabins. But some say the airline just wants to make quick money on the backs of hub-trapped flyers.

In a recent interview with CrankyFlier.com, American president Robert Isom opened up on the carrier’s plans to strengthen their core airports and “build a world-class product.” In one of the questions, the executive said the airline wants to expand segmentation, roll out more basic economy seats across the airline and improve premium options for paid upgrades.

“The game plan, in terms of what we need to do, strengthening our hubs and continuing to operate where we have a strategic advantage, going further in terms of segmentation, trying to identify what customers want, and what you can do to serve them in a profitable way has been a huge deal,” Isom told CrankyFlier.com. “We’re not where we want, but the backlog of things is really pretty cool.”

Are the words just obfuscating the truth? In a counter-editorial published by Inc. Magazine, Chris Matyszczyk opined that the segmentation options are more about profits than answering to the public’s demands. The author made an example of the airline’s Boeing 737-800 and -MAX aircraft with 30 inches of pitch across economy, disappearing in-flight entertainment screens and smaller lavatories.

“Once, there was at least an element of customer service involved in flying, which led to a certain brand loyalty,” Matyszczyk writes for Inc. “Now he [Isom] seems to be saying that the airline will improve nothing for passengers unless it can make a profit from it.”

In the FlyerTalk forums, opinions are mixed about the current direction of American. Although everyone agrees faster WiFi through ViaSat is a plus, inconsistent rules on carry-on luggage and free beverages in Main Cabin Extra is a major frustration.

“The worst thing a company, especially an airline, is have an inconsistent product due to lack of frontline training,” PHL writes on the forums. “That’s really the core of any complaints about the comp alcoholic beverage policy in MCE.”

Share your opinion now on the FlyerTalk American Airlines | AAdvantage forum!

[Photo: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.
sddjd July 19, 2018

"options are more about profits than answering to the public’s demands." This just makes Matyszczyk sound naive. rjlon's point above is well made- the public has for decades now griped about poor amenities, meals, etc, but consistently supported those carriers that sacrificed the same in order to save the customer a few dollars.

southpac July 10, 2018

seat pitch does not equal legroom. American are using slimline seats on most if not all their new aircraft, so they can reduce seat pitch & at same time increase or maintain legroom. It's seem many on here don't get this basic concept. It's all about seat back thickness, which has reduced from up to 5 inches down to as little as 1 inch, which is up to a 4 inch increase in legroom, without changing seat pitch. You can't compare airlines seat pitch unless you know what type of seat they are using. An airline with 30 inch pitch could give you more legroom than an airline with 32 or 33 inches

BC Shelby June 28, 2018

...hmm 30" seat pitch in Steerage. That's almost as bad as Frontier's 29".. I'll stick to Amtrak or Alaska First Class.

Redenbaugh June 28, 2018

I previously flew quite a bit, but am traveling less these days (Just several times/year). I used to love air travel, but no more. Seating has been way to tight for me the past year or two, such that I no longer like flying. Even worse has been the bathrooms that have gotten so small that I am almost not able to use them. I see the situation as discrimination against tall and large people because the seats and restrooms are not designed to fit such individuals. I've been choosing Southwest Airlines for domestic trips because of 1) flight change policy, 2) cost transparency and 3) seat pitch. However, on my recent 4 1/2 hour Southwest flight, the bathroom was so small that I almost could not sit down. It was pretty uncomfortable.


I was quite upset for some significant time about the overwhelming negative changes at American Airlines There are so many I don't know where to start I simply decided I do not have to fly them and I no longer do accept as a last resort when its the last carrier standing where I need to go The program ran brilliantly up until Doug Parker arrived I hope they have what they want out of it They don't care, don't listen and are AArrogant so I am on other carriers and in other programs Problem solved! I watch them continue to spiral out of control like a train wreck As a lifetime elite member I now earn my status elsewhere in another program.It takes a horrible business culture to achieve that Yet they have succeeded beyond anyone's imagination