Airlines pinch legroom in coach

Aug. 22, 2012 at 7:11 PM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. airline JetBlue and Canadian carrier WestJet said they are shaving legroom out of coach seating sections and adding it to the pricier business section.

"We know there are a lot of business travelers who are essentially flying in the back of larger aircraft that have first class and business cabins, but their companies don't support first class for business travel necessarily," explained WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer.

"Those people we think are looking for home," Palmer said.

JetBlue says it has more legroom in coach than its competitors, but it is taking an inch from the cheap seats, going from 33 inches to 32 inches, and plunking two more rows of higher priced seats in the front of the plane, where travelers get a more comfortable 38 inches of legroom, CNN reported Wednesday.

The legroom change will take place in JetBlue's Embraer E190 planes.

Southwest already traded some of the legroom in coach to put more revenue in the front of the plane, cutting space between seats to 31 inches.

An expert said it's really not length, it's more of a compression issue.

Apparently, it's all about the bottom line.

"Our butts squish in different amounts depending on how much muscle and how much fat," said airline seating expert Kathleen Robinette at Oklahoma State University's department of design housing and merchandising. "Fat squishes more than muscle.

"So that makes a difference in where your legs fall in the space -- as does how much the seat cushion compresses. All those factors interact with each other," she said.

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