CNN.com commenters weigh in on airline seat controversy
Americans are getting bigger; seats are not
One commenter calls for government regulation
Another commenter says airlines should charge by passenger weight
Editor’s Note: The Traveler’s Psyche is a five-week series focusing on travel scenarios that stir emotion. We’re starting with frustration and will wind up on a happy note in June. This week, we’ll take a closer look at air rage, the TSA and relationship travel.
If your coach airline seat is uncomfortable, it’s your fault.
That’s the gist of one of hundreds of responses to a CNN.com report about airline seat comfort, configuration and cost.
Coach fliers may complain about airline seats, but U.S. airlines are filling those seats pretty successfully. A commenter called withReason7 suggests that consumers are getting what they ask for.
“I will continue to blame the passengers that will sit in any crappy seat as long as it’s a little bit cheaper. THAT IS WHY THE AIRLINES ARE DOING THIS. Not because they are mean, because that is what MOST travelers want…”
In the report, a top body measurement expert says Americans are getting bigger, and seat-makers have been basing their designs on the wrong body parts. A seat maker says the industry simply builds what the airlines want. An airline spokesman says passengers are more interested in cost rather than comfort.
Have you seen the new numbers for airline passenger traffic?
From the looks of it, seems like carriers aren’t having any trouble selling seats, even if they are less than royal thrones. U.S. airlines hauled 53.1 million passengers in February. That’s an increase of 6.1% over traffic in February 2011 and 9% above the same month in 2010, according to the U.S. government. But the numbers also show that airline profits are down a bit, probably due to higher fuel prices, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Commenter Rick1948 says airlines have some work to do.
“The domestic airlines need to get back into the customer service business. Spread the seats out, get rid of the flight attendants with an attitude or have behinds wider than the drink cart, trash the toy airliners and get the real ones back, and start serving real food again. Then, charge whatever you need to so you can make a REASONABLE profit. Those who can afford to fly - will - and those who can’t - won’t. Then, at least flying won’t approximate the pain of a root canal any more.”
Are there any new ideas out there that can spread some sunshine among grumpy fliers? Johnkc suggests bringing in Uncle Sam.
“Sometimes, we need the government to save us from ourselves. There should be a mandated minimum width of seats and legroom. Do you really think it is safe with all those people packed in like sardines? We needed the government to mandate auto safety, and should have the same on airlines so that everyone is reasonably comfortable and safe in flying. I am not a fat person, but the way they jam us on airplanes, it is just not fun to fly anymore.”
Speaking of the government, Washington is predicting a slight dip in domestic passenger traffic this year, before it starts to rise again in a steep slope that will ultimately see air travel nearly double during the next 20 years.
Hopefully, passenger size and weight won’t be doubling.
America’s battle with weight is bleeding over into airline cabins. Commenter razorback10, who wanted to do the right thing, was faced with a difficult choice.
“I flew this last weekend. I am overweight and so looked at the website to see if there was anything I needed to do. It recommended buying two tickets, so I did in the section with extra legroom.
Get to my seat and it turns out I don’t need the seatbelt extension, I was suprised and informed the stew that I had purchased the 2nd seat so they wouldn’t be looking for the person who wasn’t showing.
The flight is full and there is a waitlist. They actually bring a guy on the plane to ask if I was willing to give my 2nd seat up for him. I politely said no, nodded at him and resumed reading my book.
I was terrified of flying because of the bigotry, I sure as hell wasn’t going to give up the extra seat I paid for so some guy to take it and then likely complain later.”
It’s hard to know whether commenter GBGentleman was being serious or facetious when he suggested this:
“I think they should charge fares based on weight. You and your luggage get on a scale when you get to the airport. You get a refund or have to pay more compared to the ‘average’ price you paid. I weigh significantly less than the ‘average’ American so why should I supplant the cost of flying those who are larger than I am? Want to save money LOSE weight.”
Of course, frustration isn’t the only emotion travel inspires. Otherwise, why would we do it? We want to hear about your greatest travel moments, whether serendipitous or carefully planned. What sticks out to you as your biggest travel success? Share your stories below.