Skinnier Seats Squeeze Air Travelers

Posted at: 10/15/2013 12:34 PM | Updated at: 10/15/2013 12:37 PM
By: JOHN MONE, Associated Press

Travelers may feel the squeeze of airline ticket prices and baggage fees, but they're also feeling an actual squeeze.

The big U.S. airlines are chucking out old bulky seats in favor of new slim-line seats that allow room for another row.  It gives the carriers two of their favorite things: More paying passengers and a smaller fuel bill because of the lighter seats.

"There's a measure used that the airlines call cost per available seat mile, and the slimmer seats by adding more to the aircraft, reduces that cost," said Paul Sterbenz, an independent airline consultant.  "That cost then can obviously fall to the bottom line as more profitability or it can serve to hold the fares down against the competition."

Sterbenz says how it affects the leg room you have on board may vary from airline to airline.  Most of the carriers say even though they're cramming more people in, the thinner seats retain passenger space.

But some passengers like six-foot-five inch golf pro Damian Payne have noticed.  "When you fly domestically and you're on the smaller flights and you're in the middle…someone as big as me that you're getting stuck next to will be sitting in the center of the aisle," Payne said.

If size isn't a problem, you may not see a difference.  "I haven't noticed the change at all, but I'm kind of a littler person," said traveler Julie Heckler of Oklahoma City.

Less padding and more passengers is something you'll have to get used to, because the change stands to save the airlines millions of dollars.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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