Is American Airlines about to add another row of seats to its planes?

By | May 27th, 2010

It seems like just yesterday that American Airlines scrapped its More Room Throughout Coach program, which made flying in the back of the plane a more civil experience by adding a few extra inches of legroom. But that program was announced a decade ago and killed five years later.

Today, American apparently wants to know: What another row of seats between friends?

Paul Hoch noticed that the Boeing 737 he flies had quietly made some seating configuration changes.

I’m a road warrior and fly every week from Dallas to Orange County for work. I’ve been doing this trip for about 6 months so I know the drill. Every week I book my ticket for about three weeks out to get the best fares and to get the seats that I like.

My preference has been to sit in row 14 as that is the second exit row and the seats can recline.

Here’s what it looks like:

He continues,

This week I went to book my ticket for the week of June 14th and I noticed that on my outbound flight (to SNA) 14 was the 2nd exit row, however on my return flight which is June 17th row 15 is the 2nd exit row.

I figured it must be a mistake or something and checked around. It looks like American is adding in two rows to the 737 on or about June 15th.

Previously there were only 28 rows on a 737 but now there will be 30. As someone who flies on the plane every week, I can tell you, it isn’t very roomy in coach as it is. When they add two more rows it will definitely suck.

No kidding.

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If that’s true, it would not be good for American’s customers. By my calculations, that would give passengers no more than 30 inches of pitch — the distance between seats — on these relatively long flights. Ouch!

Now, I realize my reporting on the issue of airline seats has been a little emotional, and not always completely accurate. As someone who is over six feet tall, I definitely have a horse in this race. So I wanted to be extra sure that this Hoch was correct. Even though he showed me screen shots, I asked American Airlines for a comment and gave it ample time to respond.

It didn’t.

So are we about to see a press release for “Far Less Room Throughout Coach”? Don’t hold your breath.

Instead, if American is doing this fleet-wide (and that’s still a big “if”) I’d brace myself for more complaints from the unhappy sardines in the back of the plane.

Stay tuned.

Update (10 a.m.): American Airlines has responded.

The 737 seat that we are putting on is a new type of seat that doesn’t “flop” back in your lap. It is called an articulated seat and it glides back (like a rocker kind of) and it allows for room because the seat in front is not in your lap.

That sounds like an improvement. But do we get more legroom — or less?