Check out your seat before you fly

I was reading a story about 6’ 7” Brook Anderson who recently caught a Spirit Airlines flight from Chicago to Fort Myer’s in Florida.  When Brook got to his seat he found that with a pitch of just 28 inches, he was too tall to sit comfortable, and sought permission from the flight attendant to stand once the seatbelt light went off.  The attendant gave him permission, so Brook stood for much of the two and a half hour flight.

Of course, standing on flights is not a new concept.  Ryanair has touted it as a way of putting more passengers on planes, although in their case they were looking at a device that would keep you secure during landing, take off and during the flight itself.

Also, Tatarstan Airlines recently offered six passengers on their overbooked flight the opportunity to stand in order to get them home.  That overwhelmingly generous offer was gratefully accepted by the homesick Tatarstanis.

I did a seat comparison on and discovered that on short haul flights, Spirit Airlines are indeed the most miserly when it comes to seat pitch, offering passengers on Airbus A320s a 28” seat pitch on a seat that is just 17.5” wide.  Most airlines offer seat with a minimum of a 30” pitch, with the norm seeming to be between 31-32 inches.  Two to three inches on a flight of several hours is quite a big deal, especially as some passengers are susceptible to Deep Vein Thrombosis if they can’t move their legs to aid blood circulation.

Most American airlines have a coach class, so perhaps Spirit could advertise themselves as having the first sardine class, to push home the fact that your cheap airfare comes which some discomfort.

Spirit earned the ire of many when they introduced a fee for hand luggage that need to be stowed in the overhead lockers, so perhaps they could raise more revenue by renting our shoe horns to passengers, just so they can better squeeze themselves into the tiny seats.

Getting back to Mr Anderson’s dilemma, he can’t help being 6’7”, but he could probably have done some research into Spirit’s seating pitch.  It is as easy at going to the website and doing an airline comparison.  There is a reason why Spirit do have such cheap fares, and that is because they cram more people onto their planes, so they have more seats to sell.  To be fair to Spirit, that is a commercial decision they have made, and they don’t hide the fact that their seating is smaller than on other airlines.

I do have some sympathy for Mr Anderson as, many years ago, I used to fly domestically inside China, at a time when the national airlines was called CAAC, which many people thought stood for China Airlines Always Crash.  They usually flew Russian built Iyushins and Tupulovs and Chinese built YUNs.  On one flight the seats were so close together I actually had to sit sideways with my knees over the armrests and my feet in the aisle, but I found it to be part of the joy of flying within China, at a time when flying within China was often laced with sheer terror.

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