Both first and economy-class passengers can expect to feel the squeeze on the carrier’s narrow-body craft.
The furor over American Airline‘s plans to introduce seats with 29-inch pitches on-board their new Boeing 737 Max planes may have abated, but it seems that space is still a contentious issue in the cabin. After considerable criticism from those in the aviation industry and even from their employees, the carrier has settled on a 30-inch pitch in economy.
This, says Gary Leff of BoardingArea, is just a hair shy of what many passengers have come to expect as the norm “since the current standard for a mainline legacy airline is 31 inches.” However, the goal of these new planes is to maximize space, which, Leff reports, the 737 Max certainly does. “The idea is to squeeze in more seats, and they’re doing it by taking away legroom both from first class and economy, by shrinking the lavatories, and by uncovering every inch of underutilized space on the plane,” commented Leff, who took the inaugural flight of the carrier’s Boeing 737 Max 8 plane from Miami to NYC just last week.
While Leff says that this particular craft does have some unique features, such as at-seat power points, satellite Internet and tablet-friendly seatbacks, major concessions have been made for the sake of space. “The word is ‘densification’,” writes Leff. “When US Airways took over American they increased the number of seats onboard 737s from 150 to 160. Now they’ve managed to get 172 onto the plane.”
What’s more, this space-saving theme is evident in first-class too. “There’s less seat pitch in first class, too (37 inches versus 38 inches currently) and less recline as well (effectively four inches instead of six),” he says. Additionally, Leff reports that there is no bulkhead division between first and economy classes. But while he concedes that the economy seats on AA’s new craft aren’t “the worst thing in the sky,” Leff explains that his “complaints about space are really complaints about economy — as it’s experienced today on American Airlines, United, and Delta — more than they are complaints about this economy.”