Some years ago, the airline industry set itself on the path towards its current record profits by shrinking seats more, and more, and more. What does the future hold for airlines? More shrinking seats.
Already, airlines seats have shrunk so much that our nation faces a veritable epidemic of seat-reclining freakouts, much to the delight of yellow journalist such as myself. Might the airlines use the big money they are now making to give humans seats that are fit for normally sized humans? Ho ho ho! The Wall Street Journal's Scott McCartney surveys the future plans of the major U.S. airlines today and finds tighter spaces, higher prices, and more general misery. Whee!
Airlines have already reduced the horizontal space between seats, called the "seat pitch," to as little as 30 inches. Now they've figured out that by using thinner chairs and thinner cushions, they can shrink that even further—Boeing has a new plane coming out with a distance of only 28 inches. That allows airlines to reconfigure their cabins to add more seats. And on top of that, United Airlines plans to remove one of the lavatories in economy class, meaning more passengers will share only two bathrooms. At the same time, they will add dozens more "Economy Plus" seats—seats that approach normal human size—that you can purchase for more money. Thoughtful!
As you fly this holiday season, please keep in mind that the major airlines are essentially using forced bodily discomfort to induce you to spend more. Some would call this extortion. Some would call it torture. I would call it "our oligarchal system of sham democracy at work." Everyone wins in a free market.