American Airlines Customers, Hold Onto Your Legs Because Economy Seat Pitch Is Getting Even Tighter!


In addition to eliminating the inflight entertainment system from it’s new Boeing 737 Max aircraft, American Airlines announced that they will also cut the Economy Class seat pitch down to 29 inches.

The smallest seat pitch of 29 inches would affect 3 rows of the Economy cabin while the rest of the rows would be scaled down to 30 inches as a result of adding additional seats to the cabin.

Yes, Economy Class passengers have very little to look forward to these days and it’s more important than ever to study the flights details before to see if you’re scheduled to go on an aircraft that you really don’t want to end up on.

CNN Money (access here) reported about American Airlines latest legroom massacre.

American Airlines(AAL) is planning to decrease the front-to-back space between some of its economy class seats by another two inches.

The airline says it plans to add more seats on its coming Boeing (BA) 737 Max jetliners. To do that, it will shrink the distance between seats, also known as pitch, from 31 inches to 29 inches on three rows of the airplane, and down to 30-inches in the rest of its main economy cabin. …

With the change, American will become the first large U.S. carrier to offer legroom with a pitch that’s nearly on par with ultra-low cost carriers Spirit Airlines (SAVE) and Frontier Airlines. Those seats are an industry minimum 28-inches apart. …

The bathrooms on American’s 737 Max jets will also be smaller, one person familiar with the planning said.

The new Max jets will have more than 170 seats, two sources said, compared to 160 on its existing 737-800s. The airline said it is keeping its extra-legroom ‘Main Cabin Extra’ economy seats, as well as its 16 first class seats.

These new single-aisle aircraft will go into use later this year and will primarily be flown on routes in North America. … An American spokesman said the airline will add 40 Max jets to its fleet by the end of 2019. It has 100 on order. The airline also said it might make similar changes to its existing fleet of 737-800s after the Max arrives, but no decisions have been made.

29 inches are extremely tight and for a mainline carrier that is really borderline torture all while sitting there and twiddling your thumbs unless you brought your own entertainment devices such as iPad or notebook.

We wrote about this other negative change coming with the Boeing 737 Max back in January (access here).

This announcement comes just a day after executives of the four major U.S. airlines had to testify in a congressional hearing over the deteriorating customer service, explaining the current (dismal) state of how airlines in the U.S. treat their passengers (access related news article here).


American has also said that they will keep Main Cabin Extra on their flights which offers additional legroom either for purchase or accessible free of charge for certain Elite members.

This shows again that it will become more and more important to secure some sort of elite status or preferential benefit tool such as a credit card that comes with privileges on a particular airline. Airlines continue to cut the salami for regular customers extremely thin and as I said above there isn’t much to look forward to as a regular Economy Class passenger in North America (and Europe isn’t far behind). I doubt it’s getting better in the future so all the more reason to have a strategy ready or be prepared to pay up for additional legroom.