I’m a tall European guy, so while I usually don’t need a lot of space in terms of seat width, I do desperately need leg room. Airlines are the prime example of why working efficiently and optimizing everything to the full 100% is not always a good idea. On my tour through Asia I learned the hard way Asian planes are typically not built for anyone suffering from tall genes – and trust me they made me suffer. Especially the local, cheaper airlines left me with precisely zero legroom. Actually, the person in front of me probably got more familiar with my knees than they cared for. I’m deeply sorry. Then again, what you pay is usually what you get, so when booking price-fighting local Asian airlines to do some island hopping in the Philippines I could have seen that coming.
What I didn’t see coming was the new design on Boeing – somehow they thought it was a good idea to cram another seat in almost every row of the already full plane. From the standard 2-4-2 configuration on the larger planes some airlines went to a 3-3-3 set up. So in addition to having a stranger thrown in to my trip-for-two, we also collectively lost on privacy, leg space and seat width.
Most people don’t know that when you stroll to the nearest Boeing dealership the brand new plane isn’t sold like that. It comes completely empty. It’s up to the airline how to setup their seat configuration. So it’s definitely not Boeing’s fault – actually their improvements in terms of cabin pressure on the latest models definitely help (a lot), and they raised the windows so I can look outside without my neck getting into too much of a knot. Well done, Boeing.
But airlines stuffing another seat into each row on already overbooked flights is an outrage. It’s almost as if they’re trying to make the whole experience as uncomfortable as possible. Maybe they hope to scare more people into business class, which definitely removes some of the unpleasantries. But honestly I think the term ‘cattle class’ should be upgraded back to ‘economy’ or even ‘comfort’ class. With ticket prices going up and comfort going down I think airlines are optimizing things at the wrong end of the spectrum – and they prove yet again you don’t want to be operating at “prime efficiency”.
Learn more about my travel hacking secrets and the way I organize my travel and book free airfare (with or without legroom) around the world in my bestselling book The Freedom Project. It’s available on Amazon, Amazon Canada and finer book retailers around the world. Get your copy today and join the travel revolution.