The summer season is creeping upon us, which is a time where many people will book a vacation. Industry experts believe that one thing that makes people nervous ahead of flights, especially long haul ones, is the cramped conditions in economy class.
Danielle Belyeu got a preview of what’s to come on a recent flight from Paris to Atlanta.
“The passenger in front of me reclined,” Belyeu said. “He was literally in my lap.”
Belyeu then reclined her seat, which then created a domino effect in the economy cabin.
Belyeu said that as a travel adviser, she has watched economy seats evolve from reasonably comfortable to borderline unbearable. She fears, however, that the worst is yet to come.
Mario Matulich, president of Customer Management Practice, described the changes in economy as “price increases accompanied by a declining customer experience.”
Marian Styles, who is a passenger who flew from San Francisco to Sydney last month, said that her seat on a Boeing 777-300ER in economy class had been reconfigured from the original nine-seat-across layout to 10 seats across.
Styles said that her 17-inch-wide seat made her feel like she was wearing a straightjacket.
“The entire flight was miserable, and I was awake for all 15 hours of it.”
Mike Heck, who is vice president of supplier solutions for Fox World Travel, believes that passengers who haven’t flown in sometime will be in for an unpleasant surprise when they step on board.
“With flights being fuller, there is a very good possibility that we will see an increase in tensions over decreased personal seat space,” he said.
Etiquette expert Adeodata Czink said that even putting arms on your arm-rest could be a no-no this summer.
“It’s tough, but you don’t want to have a really bad neighbor for eight hours,” she said.
Nick Leighton, host of the weekly etiquette podcast Were You Raised By Wolves?, also predicted potential tensions over overhead storage.
“On an airplane, everything is shared space and nobody owns anything, including the overhead bin above your seat,” he said.
Jeff Klee, who is CEO of CheapAir.com, said that only the government stepping in would bring airlines and passengers in line.
“There is not much hope for economy class passengers without more government regulation,” he said.
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