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United Airlines CEO Says Passengers Are Fed-Up With Shrinking Seats

United Airlines CEO Says Passengers Are Fed-Up With Shrinking Seats
Jeff Edwards

Speaking with ABC News, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz made some surprisingly frank comments about the current state of air travel. The airline executive said that travelers may not stand for any further attempts to fit more seats into already cramped airplane cabins. He also expressed frustration with United’s inability to provide reliable inflight connectivity.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz says that the days of cramming more and more seats into passenger planes may be coming to an end. He indicated that cramped cabin quarters may have reached critical mass when it comes to how much flyers are willing to tolerate.

“I think we are nearing a point certainly that we can’t do that anymore,” Munoz confessed to ABC News’ David Kerley. “It’s [air travel] become so stressful, from when you leave, wherever you live, to get into traffic, to find a parking spot, to get through security. Frankly, by the time you sit on one of our aircraft, you’re just pissed at the world.”

Munoz added that customer service efforts, such as menu improvements and enhanced beverage service, can only go so far when it comes to improving passengers’ experience. He notes that flyers who have reached the end of their ropes with the hassles of modern are travel aren’t likely to be impressed with “what coffee or cookie I give you.”

The United chief said that although inflight amenities can’t make up for the inconveniences at the airport and discomfort on the plane, there is one particular service passengers have come to depend on. Munoz admitted that the carrier has struggled to provide air travelers with reliable inflight internet access. He lamented that, in many ways, the solution to the persistent problem is out of his hands.

“It’s complicated technology,” the CEO explained. “We will fix that, and, frankly, we would stop a lot of our growth if we could just stop and find the right provider and get that done. That’s how important Wi-Fi is to us and to our customers.”

[Image Source: Wikimedia]

View Comments (9)


  1. Front Row Seats

    April 24, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    United? Mr. Munoz is a laugh riot but he’s right about one thing – “by the time we sit on one of their aircraft, we’re just pissed at the world.”
    To even consider that they can cram more seats into an aircraft is ludicrous.
    United is the first USA airline to remove seat back entertainment and make everyone download the United app to view content on the passengers’ own devices. So is it any wonder their WiFi doesn’t work? It’s maxed out.
    I am still loyal to United due to my FFP status but the aircraft stink, the food stinks, the airport lounges stink, the on time performance stinks, and I’ve had quite a few flights with FA who didn’t seem to enjoy their jobs. The only good thing is their Dreamliner service to Asia. Mr. Munoz has his work cut out for him and I wish him good luck.

  2. LeicaMan

    April 24, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    Oscar is stating what the British might call “The Bleedin’ Obvious”. Where and how exactly could they possibly add more seats even if they wanted to? If anyone has flown on the re-configured United 777’s with 10 across seating in economy, it would be literally impossible to add another seat. I suppose you could simply fill in the aisle’s with seats. That way you don’ have to worry about serving those upgraded cookies.

  3. UKTroll

    April 25, 2019 at 2:20 am

    I used to fly across the Atlantic regularly for work, and always used to fly American Airlines. Not only were the crew superb, but the seats were wider and better spaced. If you downloaded a seating plan to see which rows had power (every third row in Economy back then), an Economy ticket on AA was pretty much as good as a Business ticket on many other airlines. As a result AA has remained my preferred transatlantic airline ever since.

  4. SarcasticMisanthrope

    April 25, 2019 at 5:55 am

    You and your ilk are to blame for it, you POS.

  5. TMOliver

    April 25, 2019 at 6:35 am

    Perhaps responding too quickly and even a bit irrationally (but in long, uncomfortable experience, justifiably:….No sh*t, Sherlock!

  6. Bear4Asian

    April 25, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Don’t talk DO!

    The average weight in the U.S. has gone up 20-25 lbs since the 1950s. And American men have the highest average weight in the world coming in at 180lb.

    The seat size has gone down, down, down since the 50s as the average weight has gone UP!

    No wonder we’re pissed off.

  7. Dhamal

    April 25, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    obesity is the issue here n the US of A.. people are more overweight here in teh US of A than anywhere else in the world.. I’m sure a Asian person would feel quite comparable in the United basic economy.. I personally fly economy plus.. i’m not to cheap on the extra fare or luggage charge.

  8. vonsnooks

    April 26, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Where to begin…I agree that Oscar’s sentiment, while having elements of truth to it, minimizes the role of UA has had in diminishing the travel experience. Saying that UA flyers are just angry at the world demonstrates a lack of understanding of customer needs. Think of all the aspects of the airport experience from check in to the seat where United provides a sub par experience. Some of these date back to the CO merger, others installed by Mr. Munoz’s predecessor, but all weigh on the travel experience. Maybe UA can stop following every profit making scheme concocted by DL or AA…

    Add this to reduced comfort across the fleet, with my personal “favorite” being the rock hard A32x seat cushions are punishing to sit in for longer than a couple of hours . iIs it any wonder why people feel like they are dying the death of a thousand paper cuts?

  9. topman

    April 28, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    Since Oscar became CEO what has he done to make the flying experience on United better. I cannot think of one thing. Let’s remember Oscar was part of the old regime a wolf in sheep clothing. The employees are unhappy from the counter agents (losing their jobs) to the cranky gate agents, unhappy FA (and crankier now that they reduced staffing) to delayed planes.

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