NY Times tends to have good pieces about airline and hotel related issues. As the holiday travel is on its highest level, the paper is now tackling the issues rising from more packed planes and reduced pitch (access the article here).
Many airlines are adding rows, installing new slimmer seats and reducing the seat pitch. This allows airline to pack more passengers to planes, but at the same time making the experience more miserable.
According to the New York Times, the standard seat pitch used to be 34 inches, but is now somewhere between 30 to 32 inches. Spirit is the only US airline with the absolute minimum of 28 inches.
Some airlines, such as Spirit, have made the seat non-reclinable as well.
While the seats have become smaller the weight (20 pounds in 40 years) and the waist (ex[ended by 2.5 inches) of the average traveler has expanded.
The article also discusses the problems that travelers face due to the cramped seating such as hostility towards passengers that would like to recline.
I can tolerate packed seating on short flight of an hour or two, but flying long-haul in such a seating is miserable. I made such a mistake last year by flying on China Southern from CAN to DXB that must have been the most miserable flight of recent years.
The seating in economy was so tight that I end up spending most of the flight napping inside the lavatory or standing in the back galley.