Airlines Make Price Pitch for More Legroom, but Will it Last?

By Scott Spangler on May 29th, 2023

Is it coincidence that after decades of shrinking seat pitch (that ever-narrowing gap where your legs are supposed to go in coach), that the airlines have so thoroughly alienated people that they can now shrink coach to expand the space in the front half of the cabin where higher-priced seat with more legroom live?

According to a recent New York Times article, “It’s Not Your Imagination: First Class is Getting Bigger,” this space reapportionment is taking place at several major airlines because nonbusiness travelers are more “willing to pay more for a wider seat, extra legroom, and a nicer meal in premium economy or first class or business class.” As reported by the Times, an average round-trip ticket from New York to LA cost $300 for economy, $900 for premium economy, and $1,200 for business class.

Given the bottom-line focus of business, where looking to and planning for the future rarely extends beyond a handful of Qs, it is unlikely that the airlines had this money-making windfall in mind when they started the economy price pitch to cram more people in a small space, although that decision was surely driven by the bottom line. So happy to be free of pandemic travel restrictions, people are paying the price and major airlines are expanding their “premium seating by 25 to 75 percent in portions of their fleets.”

For a few reasons, this price pitch legroom won’t last long. Even if our elected officials don’t shove the global economy into the abyss in their deficit-limit power play, inflation and necessities like something to eat and a warm, dry place to sleep will, in short order, trigger a flashing red light on the pandemic savings accounts that these travelers have been burning through. And then its back to the re-expanded realm of deep vein thrombosis and snacks snuck onboard in a carryon, if you can afford the fee the airline charges for it making the trip with you. –Scott Spangler, Editor


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