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Airline cuts costs with nonreclining seats

There's also less room between seats, so more passengers can fit on the planes.

By Karen Datko Apr 22, 2010 4:53PM

Ah, airline travel these days. You pay for the privileges of checking a bag, picking a seat, quenching your thirst and -- on Spirit Airlines -- bringing a carry-on bag on board starting in August.

One thing you won’t be able to buy on some of Spirit’s flights is a reclining seat. SunSentinel.com reports that Spirit has two new airplanes that come with nonreclining -- inappropriately called "prereclined" --  seats, and two more are on the way.

 

It’s all about cost. The airline said the seats are lighter and cost less to maintain (fewer moving parts).

 

Only one other U.S. airline, Vegas-based Allegiant Air, has stationary seats in its fleet. However, those planes have 30 inches of room -- known as “pitch” -- between seats; the new Spirit planes have only 28.

If you want to reserve a seat to get more legroom, of course, you’ll have to pay for that. SeatGuru informs us: “In order to reserve a seat assignment, you must pay a fee online for each one-way segment. Spirit charges $15 for an exit-row seat, $12 for an aisle or a window, and $7 for a middle seat.”

 

"Between the bag and the seats, I don't know, they are kind of just piling things up here," Spirit passenger Bryan Bordeaux told the Sun Sentinel. "What happened to customer service?"

 

What’s next? Christopher Elliott, writing at The Washington Post, predicts that airlines will figure out some way to charge passengers based on their poundage, despite the fact that new planes are being built with lighter materials, which means lower fuel costs. (Some airlines already require extra-wide-body passengers to purchase a second seat.)

 

“Knowing the airline industry as I do, I bet they'll go for the upgraded planes and the pay-by-the-pound scheme,” Elliott wrote.

 

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to fly and keep on griping, said David Parker Brown at AirlineReporter.com. Cheap airfare trumps all.

Passengers will fly on the airline, then complain that flying is not the way it used to be, they wish they had more room, food and no fees. However, they will continue to purchase the cheapest tickets possible.

The thought of seats that don’t recline does appeal to some. Brown said: “Personally I never recline my seats when I fly anyhow. I think it is quite rude to the people behind me and I hate it when people recline in front of me. I think I might be in the minority on that one though.”

 

My blogging partner Teresa Mears agrees: “Frankly, I'd pay extra to fly in a plane where seats don't recline. I am tired of people reclining into my space.”

 

What do you think? Would you be satisfied with stationary seats, or are the airlines treating us more like cattle?

 

Related reading:

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