A Wider Seat or More Amenities: Which Would You Rather Have On Your Flight?
Despite a call by Airbus S.A.S. for a passenger seat in the economy class cabins on aircraft used for long-haul flights to be a minimum of 18 inches wide, could 11 seats abreast in the economy class cabin of an Airbus A380 aircraft operated by Emirates Airline become a reality in the near future?
It is possible, according to an article written by Jon Ostrower and Daniel Michaels of The Wall Street Journal. “We’ve tried it,” Tim Clark — the president of Emirates Airline — reportedly said. “It works.”
The new width for a seat in the economy class cabin of an Airbus A380 aircraft operated by Emirates Airline is expected to be 17.2 inches — down from approximately 18 inches, but supposedly still slightly wider than the 17-inch seat found in economy class cabins of Boeing 777 aircraft.
In an attempt to maximize revenue, some airlines have been reducing the amount of personal space a passenger can have on a flight in order to fit as many seats as possible in an airplane by a number of ways — including but not limited to:
- Decreasing the width of a seat — as Emirates Airline will apparently attempt to do
- Reducing the amount of “seat pitch” — the space between a point on one seat and the same point on the seat in front of it — such as was the case with Air Canada in the economy class cabin aboard its fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft
- Reducing the amount of legroom of a seat — such as with the removal of More Room Throughout Coach by American Airlines back in 2005
- Decreasing the space of other areas of an aircraft — such as decreasing the size of a lavatory to fit additional seats, as will supposedly be the case pertaining to lavatories on the new Boeing 737-900 aircraft ordered by Delta Air Lines; or decreasing the size of a premium class cabin to fit more seats in a different cabin of the aircraft, such as with Air Canada on some of the Boeing 777 aircraft it operates
Seats with less width can also be lighter, contributing to reduced costs as a result of saving on fuel. This is by no means a major source of saving money — but every penny apparently helps.
According to Tim Clark, offering products and services to passengers seated in the economy class cabin will distract them from the narrower seat. Distractions could include but not be limited to:
- Large meals
- Attentive service
- In-flight entertainment
- Frequent snacks
…and there would be plenty of those distractions.
My immediate reaction to narrower seats is that I thought it was a bad idea in general. However — for me personally — I have to admit that if I received plenty of the above “distractions” at no additional cost, I would not mind the narrower seat.
The reason why I enjoy being a passenger in a premium class seat is because of the wealth “distractions” which are offered. Several years ago, I had lunch with a couple of employees of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program of Delta Air Lines — and during lunch, I expressed to them that I do not need to be in a first class seat if I simply received a few of the amenities as an elite status level member which I could enjoy in the economy class cabin. I cited a better snack or more frequency of snacks; perhaps several servings of a non-alcoholic beverage instead of one; or free in-flight entertainment. That is when they told me in confidence that I would be pleasantly surprised by a new concept that they planned on rolling out in the months ahead, which eventually became known as the enhanced Have One On Us coupon where a complimentary snack is offered as one of the options for which you can redeem the coupon while seated as a passenger in the economy class cabin.
I have mentioned in the past more than once that I do not drink alcoholic beverages and do not necessarily need the extra room in a seat — so what I am about to say may be considered heresy to you:
I would rather have more amenities available to me at no extra cost rather than have a wider seat if I were a passenger in the economy class cabin — regardless of the duration of the flight — as long as I have a reasonable amount of legroom. Go ahead — take the extra inch of seat width from me. Keep the snacks and non-alcoholic drinks coming. Give me reasonably attentive service — I usually feel uncomfortable when anyone fawns all over me anyway. In fact, I would not mind helping myself to the snacks and drinks at a self-service station located somewhere aboard the aircraft, thank you very much. My portable electronic device will keep me entertained with my personal choice of greater than 500 songs which I carefully selected, so I do not care whether or not there is an in-flight entertainment system.
In other words, have me say “Wow — we are already at our destination?!?” than “When is this flight ever going to end?!?”
Of course, other passengers seated in the economy class cabin may beg to differ — especially if it exacerbates the ensuing debate pertaining to overweight passengers where airlines may have more of a reason to charge passengers an amount of airfare based on their weight.
What about you? Which would you rather have: more amenities or a wider seat as a passenger in the economy class cabin?