October 2, 2014

Why Can’t Airlines Just Add Extra Room?

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Written by: David Parker Brown
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I recently saw a comment on an older post; it referenced a bad experience with a seat being too small.  The person posed the following: “If planes were just one foot wider, seats could be as wide as first class.  Would that kill Boeing or Airbus?”

Most passengers would love to fly like this (heck, who wouldn’t). But per passenger, this 737 is not very cost effective.

Most passengers would love to fly like this (heck, who wouldn’t). But per passenger, this 737 is not very cost effective.

I have seen this question come up quite a bit.  Sure, for some of you, the answer to this might be pretty obvious.  However, I don’t think that the majority of passengers really understand why this seemingly-simple change of adding more room to a plane is not simple at all.  And in the end, it is not what passengers really want anyhow.

The data tells us that humans just keep getting bigger – particularly Americans.  This is not only from poor diet and lack of exercise, but just how we have evolved as a species.  We have easier access to food and health care, and as a result are living longer, which in some way connects to us getting taller and wider.

At the same time, airlines are looking to cram as many people into a fuselage as possible in order to maximize efficiency, reduce costs, and maybe squeeze out a profit every quarter or so.  These two concepts together certainly have caused passengers to become upset, but are the airlines fully to blame?  I think not.  I think the majority of the blame lies in the demands of many passengers; they want the cheapest prices possible.

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About the Author

David Parker Brown



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