Southwest Evolve Retrofit

As if flying in coach weren’t bad enough.

Airlines are currently experimenting with news ways to increase profits, and it’s the economy-class passengers who’ll feel the brunt of the changes, which include either adding to or reducing the number of seats, increasing legroom or cutting the distance between rows, according to

For instance, the “Evolve” interior that Southwest Airlines began retrofitting its fleet with contain seats that are six pounds lighter with thinner cushions. The airline stated in a blog post that it increased the number of seats on board from 137 to 143, which means that the addition of six uncomfortable passengers per flight is more valuable to the airline than 137 relatively comfortable passengers.

JetBlue has long been celebrated for its seats with more legroom for a mere $40 extra per flight, and the popular airline added even more “Even More Space” seats to its fleet of Embraer 190 aircrafts in April. What’s the problem, then, you ask? If the airlines giveth, then they can taketh away. Conde Nast Traveler reported that the larger legrooms are made possible by shortening the space of seats further back. For an airline with only one class, Jetblue has done the impossible: further separated the “haves” from the “have-nots.”

United Airlines chose a European-based seat manufacturer to design new seats for its Airbus fleet overhaul, despite the fact that it’s an United States-based airline, and Americans tend to be significantly heavier than their European counterparts. The airline’s 152 narrow-body aircraft will be outfitted with slimmer seats, which will allow an extra row onto the aircraft. United claims that this will not sacrifice seat comfort. OK?

American Airlines has reduced its seat pitch by one inch in its new Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which contains two extra rows than any of its predecessors. To mitigate the reduction, the seats do not recline. The seat bottom slides forward instead, while the back slouches within a shell.

If you get what you pay for, doesn’t the passenger deserve to pay a smaller price for less legroom and comfort? After the past years of nickel-and-diming, it shouldn’t surprise us that airlines are finding even more ways to cut costs and generate revenue, like decreasing service and flying at a higher capacity so that planes are full most of the time. But, it’s at no comfort to the passenger that the already uncomfortable economy class is steadily becoming more uncomfortable. Perhaps its a ploy to make economy class so unbearable to drive passengers into paying significantly more for Business Class seats and the service and comfort that come with it.

Take it as a sign of the times.

By: Julia Jacobo