Legroom To Be Reduced On American Airlines In Order To Raise Capacity

Reports indicate that there will be reduced legroom for passengers in Economy class in new planes that American Airlines is planning to deploy. In the newest Boeing 737 jetliners, the space separating most rows will now be approximately 76 centimeters or 30 inches. This translates to a reduction in legroom of about one inch when compared to the spacing on the carrier’s 737-800 jets.

On the 737 Max planes, there will be three rows at least which will have space measuring 29 inches only. This will be similar to what deep discounters like Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines offer.

Slimmer seat designs

The effort by the largest carrier in the world to fit in as many passengers on a plane as possible comes in the wake of airlines in the United States increasingly turning to slimmer seat designs with a view to maximizing the legroom. For American Airlines, the densification trend will start later in the year when the carrier’s order for 737 Max planes is delivered.

“These are well-designed seats built for this kind of a layout. We believe we’re still providing a good product for customers,” a spokesperson for American Airlines, Joshua Freed, told Bloomberg in an interview.

Densification strategy

Though American Airlines has not revealed which rows will possess the least legroom, 737 Max planes will possess a capacity of 172 seats. This will include 36 seats that will be located in the Main Cabin Extra, a premium section offering more comfort and added services. This year Boeing will deliver four 737 Max planes to American Airlines and another 16 next year. The total number of units that American Airlines has placed with Boeing is 100.

According to Freed, the number of seats will also be increased in any 737-800 planes that the carrier will be taking delivery of in the future. In 2015 American Airlines increased the number of seats on the 737-800 from 150 to 160. On the wide-body 777-200 planes, the carrier had increased the number of seats from 247 to 289.

Discount airlines

American Airlines is not the only major carrier in the United States to embrace the densification strategy. Five years ago Southwest Airlines also introduced slimmer seat designs which allowed it to increase the number of seats by six on the 737 jet. Delta Airlines followed suit three years ago.

Industry watchers are of the view that the move by American Airlines to reduce legroom will allow it to offer lower prices putting it head-on in a battle with discount airlines.

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