London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5
I recently had the opportunity to fly both British Airways and Iberia in short-haul economy, and talk about a 180-degree difference, especially striking when both are owned by the same parent company. While short flights don’t generally get much consideration, when one carrier offers so much more than another on the exact same route (namely between London and Madrid) for the exact same price, it’s probably better to go with the airline that will offer more and avoid the one that (spoiler alert) won’t even give you water.
There is not a lot of room in economy to begin with, and reclining makes it worse
I am a non-recliner and I am not afraid to admit it.
What does that mean? It means that when I am flying economy (and sometimes in domestic first or a similar product), I just do not recline my seat – by choice.
I get that we are all given the “right” to recline our seats (otherwise, they wouldn’t put the button there, right?), but part of me just feels it is rude – so I don’t do it. I feel guilty every time I try to recline and wonder what I am doing to the passenger behind me. Am I smashing their laptop? Am I going to knock over a drink? Or am I going to make them roll their eyes and sigh?
Am I crazy here, or are there other non-recliners out there?
Seat Pitch is the distance from any point on one seat to the exact same point on the seat in front or behind it (my graphic isn't 100% on, but gives you the jist). Bigger is better!
My recent blog on Spirit Airline’s non-reclining seats made me think, “what seat pitches do other airlines have and is Spirit’s new pitch all that bad?”
Using SeatGuru.com I took a look at different airlines around the world. Here are the airlines and planes with the worst seat-pitch in economy class for short-haul flights:
Airlines/Planes with 28″ Pitch:
* Finnair on Boeing 757-200 [28-29″]
* Monarch Airlines on Airbus A300-600, A320-200, and A321-200 [28-29″]
* Monarch Airlines on Boeing 757-200 [28-34″]
* Spirit Airline’s NEW non-reclining seats
Airlines/Planes with 29″ Pitch:
* Air India Express with Boeing 737-800 [29-30″]
* bmibaby with Boeing 737-300 [29-31″]
* Hainan Airlines with Boeing 737-300 [29-31″]
* Gulf Air with Airbus A321-100/200 [29-32″]
* easyJet with Airbus A320/A319
* Horizon Air with Bombardier Q400 [29-30″]
Some of these had ranges of pitch, but I chose the smallest pitch. The range might vary because a plane might have a few rows with smaller pitch to fit in more seats. I have placed the range in brackets after the airline (if they have a range).
You know what is entertaining? RYANAIR HAS A SEAT PITCH OF 30″ and they are probably seen as the worlds biggest (worst) “no-frills” airline. That surprised me. Just for the fun of it, here are airlines with more than 34″ of pitch on economy short-hauls:
Airlines/Planes with at least 34″ Pitch:
* Finnair Airbus A319 [37″]
* JetBlue Airbus A320 [34-38″]
* Thomas Cook Boeing 757-200 [35″]
* MexicanaClick Fokker 100 [34-35″]
* Westjet Boeing 737-800 [34″]
* Porter Airlines Q400 [34″]
* Air Canada CRJ-705 [34″]
It is interesting that Finnair makes it on two of the lists.
The problem is most passengers don’t know about seat pitch and don’t use that when comparing which airline to fly on. Would a passenger be willing to not fly on an airline due to seat pitch? I doubt it.
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Spirit Airline Airbus A320
Spirit Airlines has been in the news a lot recently for their new carry-on fees. Where has it gotten them? Well a ton of free publicity, people complaining …oh and 50% rise in bookings.
It seems that even though there was a lot of “negative” publicity on the new fees, passengers are buying more tickets. Is this because they are feeling Spirit must have really low fares or is it just coincidence?
Now that the carry-on fees buzz is dying down, it is time to move on to the next “crazy” thing: “pre-reclined” seats. Now this gimmick sounds like you would get on the plane and the seats are already partially reclined. However, it really means your seat will be upright and will not be able to recline at all.
Spirit have put the new seats in two new Airbus A320’s servicing the Fort Lauderdale-Washington, DC, route and on flights between Fort Lauderdale and New York’s LaGuardia airport. Two more A320’s will join the fleet this summer, and both will feature the “pre-reclined” seat design, Misty Pinson, with Spirit Airlines told the Orlando Sentinel.
So why is Spirit doing this? To fit in more seats, increasing passenger load and lowering prices. Let me guess how this will work out though:
Step #1: The media and passengers will complain how horrid this is and how they will never fly.
Step #2: Spirit will get free publicity (I know, I am guilty of this right now) about the story, making it stick in people’s minds that the airline provides low-frills, but also low prices (doesn’t always mean it is true).
Step #3: When booking flights, passengers see maybe Spirit’s airfares are very low and decide to fly on them, not caring about the low-frills.
Step #4: Passengers will fly on the airline, then complain that flying is not the way it used to be, they wish they had more room, food and no fees. However, they will continue to purchase the cheapest tickets possible.
Step #5: If Spirit makes more profit off this model, other airlines will follow. Passengers will blame the airlines, but really it is from passenger demand.
Spirit is not the first airline to provide no-recline seats. Allegiant Airlines has seats that don’t recline in 34 of 47 of their aircraft with little complaint. However, they also give 30″ pitch (room between seats), where Spirit will only be giving 28″ pitch. Personally I never recline my seats when I fly anyhow. I think it is quite rude to the people behind me and I hate it when people recline in front of me. I think I might be in the minority on that one though.
Is Spirit Airlines become the US version of Ryanair? That is a good question and I think you might see a blog in the near future on that concept…stay tuned.
UPDATE: I got wondering what other airline’s seat pitches look like and wrote up what I found. Also most people think of low budget airlines are the ones installing non-recling seats, but Dan Webb, with the blog Things in the Sky, reminded me that AirFrance is also using seats that won’t recline (but they still have a 32″ pitch). Image: andre5003
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