Fewer Seats = More Room For Everyone
Just last month ANN reported on a very contentious
issue: To recline or not to recline -- that is the
question when flying commercial. Based on the number of
comments we received, the issue seems to be near the top of
concerns for today's air traveler.
JetBlue has apparently been reading ANN (grin) because it
announced plans on Wednesday to remove one row of seats from all
its Airbus A320 aircraft increasing legroom in the front eleven
At the heart of the should-I-recline-or-not debate is the amount
of room between rows. The coach section in most airliners allow 31
or 32 inches from seatback to seatback -- that doesn't leave much
room, if any, for taller travelers even before the person in front
decides to take a nap. As for working on your laptop --
JetBlue’s CEO David Neeleman told the New York Times, "If
you’re in the 320 and the middle seat’s full,
you’re hating life a little bit."
JetBlue's A320s provide a little more room than most in the last
14 rows -- 34 inches -- but it's still cramped if you're trying to
The airline has other motives besides its customers' comfort,
though. Neeleman says reducing seating from 156 to 150 allows his
airliners to fly with one fewer flight attendant. Between that and
the fuel savings from reduced weight, JetBlue says it stands to
save some $6 million annually.
A website popular with frequent fliers lists legroom in each of
the different aircraft flown by the nation's carriers. JetBlue
hopes Wednesday's move will give it an edge over its rivals.
Neeleman says JetBlue's competitors are going to have a hard
time matching a four inch increase in legroom.
He adds the company has no plans for flight attendant layoffs
because the company's growth will make up the difference by the end
of next year. He did say, however, that some FA's will be offered
leave, but will be able to hold onto their benefits.
The company hopes all to convert all its A320s by March.