United Airlines (NYSE: UA) announced today that it has increased seating capacity by 42% on its Boeing 737 jets by adding seats through the entire center aisle.
“Our customers spoke, and we listened,” said United Airlines CEO Scott Kerby to a group of reporters and airline staff “Americans prefer aisle seats by a staggering margin, almost 4 to 1. And of course, in these trying times, Americans are concerned about flying safely. They want to see more unfilled seats on a flight. We took both of these points as opportunities for improvement and implemented a massive retrofit of our fleet. In essence, we’re increasing capacity in order to decrease capacity.”
“That was a pretty standard flight,” said John Griffiths, a retired Airforce pilot after flying United Airlines. “I don’t know what everyone was complaining about. I’m on a tight budget and when I saw the Economy Minus® fairs, I jumped at the chance to catch a flight and see some of my buddies. During boarding, we were delayed on the jetway for about 40 minutes before I saw the hold-up. It’s like civilians have never seen an obstacle course! My seat was close to the front so I only had to climb over about 11 seats during boarding. Unfortunately, I was seated in front of the lavatory door and it only opened about 4 inches before hitting my knee. But overall, the seating actually worked out quite well. The flight attendants would throw me canned drinks to relay to the folks in seats further back. One of the stewardesses, Susan I think it was, was consistently throwing a really great spiral on the Dr. Peppers.”
United is currently partnering with the ACLU to make the new layout compliant with the Americains with Disabilities Act. The most promising solution is simply shoving disabled patrons into the carry-on bins.