Some Airlines Looking at SeatPitch as Profit Booster
SeatPitch Safety and Health Issues
Fees, Fees, Fees
SeatPitch as Airline Profit Booster?
Taking the term "Cattle Car" to thenext level, meet SkyRider, a new airline seat that resembles a padded saddle and lets airline pack in up to 40% more travelers per flight. There is, apparently, no upper limit on ridiculous.
Even as airline
passenger rights legislation builds momentum through Congress, airlines
are still looking for other ways to squeeze us.
Seatpitch is the distance between rows of seats - the measurement from the same position on two seats, one behind the other - it is NOTthe legroom area, as some believe. (For example, the back face of theseat in front of you, measured to the same point on the back face of theseat you are sitting in). There are no FAA standards for seatpitch. As things stand, the airlines can do whatever they want with it.
How much seatpitch do the airlines provide now? The Skytrax site, run by research organization Airline Equality, published a report of current pitch offerings. Depending on the airline, first class pitch is between 80 and 94 inches, while coach pitch is between 31 and 35 inches.
So now what? The picture at the right illustrates theseat. According to a YahooNews article, these little beauties would decrease pitch to about twenty-three inches! Think about your last, miserable coach ride, sitting in a pitch space in the low-thirties range.
"Hey," say the manufacturers, "Cowboys work all day in a saddle, no problem." Are any of you riders? How long did it take you to get over that hideous, saddle-sore feeling? Did any of you ever notice how funny cowboys walk? Do you want to do a cowboy walk from Gate D5,231 to the baggage area at The William B. Hartsfield Airport?
The obvious discomfort aside, there are serious health and safety issues associated with this design. Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein. The clot can break loose and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. Immobility on long airline flights has been directly linked to DVT formation. In fact, DVT is the second-leading cause of death on airplanes. Think you're immobile in coach now? How about sitting on a saddle for four to six hours? This is not just a matter of inconvenience and discomfort. It is likely to be a matter of life and death!
Another life and death consideration is the ability to quickly evacuate an aircraft. The FAA says in theCode of Federal Regulations that carriers must demonstrate the ability to fully evacuate an aircraft in 90 seconds. Obviously, the closer theseatpitch, the more difficult it is to get out of the row-especially if you're in a window seat. Do you want to be trapped in an airplane in an emergency just so the airlines can increase their bottom line?
This idea seems ridiculous on the
face of it, but then, who thought airlines would ever charge us to move
our bags with us, eliminate food service, think about installing pay
toilets, open up an onboard blanket and pillow concession, and otherwise
nickel and dime us to death each and every time we fly?
What do you think? Visit our form at http://www.flyersrights.org/phpBB3/index.php and weigh in under the News heading, topic Saddle Seats. While you're at it, take a look at our web site and sign our petition in support of airline passenger rights.
SeatPitch Safety and Health Issues
We received an e-mail from member JoBeth C. last week, providing a vivid example of the DVT issue we discussed above. Here's her story, in her own words:
I flew from Madrid to Atlanta in May on Delta. When I got to my row, I had to climb over the aisle seat to get to my middle seat--there was no way a human adult could stand in the few inches of legroom, even with all the seats upright.
I picked up a Sky Mall catalog and measured my space: 11 inches, from my nose to the seatback in front of me. Delta's website says I can expect 30 inches minimum, so I guess they reconfigured the rows from what would have been normal. Nearly every seat on the flight seemed to have at least 30 inches of space, and some had much more. No other rows were as tight as this one. My seat's overhead light would only illuminate the man's head in front of me. My tray table was only four inches deep, but I couldn't use it because it hit my seat arms and bounced up. Obviously, something was not right on this row, but the flight was full.
My knees hit theseat
in front (I'm normal weight for my 5'8" height) and within an hour, I
had a cramp in one leg from being pretzeled into such a tight space. Theseat belt light stayed on for about 80% of the flight, despite any noticeable turbulence -- I got up anyway, as much as possible, trying to get the cramp to subside. It was the most horrible flight I have been on in 30 years of frequent travel -- and I was stuck in that seat nearly 10 hours.
horrifying result: I now have a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis or
DVT) in my right ankle. This is not normal for an active 46-year-old, so
my doctors are pretty sure it was this Madrid flight that did it. I
have had to inject myself with blood thinners, and will be on Coumadin
for at least three months, or possibly for the rest of my life. That leg vein will never be the same. In addition, my lower back went into spasm after the flight, and I am in physical therapy to treat that.
DVT is, according to recent studies, so common that it will strike one person on every two flights -- but those are only the
ones we KNOW about. DVT can be fatal and disabling, yet is often
mistaken for other illnesses and injuries (as in my case: one doctor
told me I'd only sprained a tendon). It is considered the number one preventable reason for hospitalization in the U.S.
I complained in writing to Delta, with no result. So I complained to the DOT, to the FAA, and to my wonderful senator, Barbara Boxer. I am trying to get the word out; an elderly or injured person sitting in a seat like this one would have a very high chance of having a fatal or disabling clot.
To me, this is a
life or death issue, and definitely needs to be addressed in any
legislation about passenger's rights. I have spent thousands and lost
weeks of work, thanks to Delta's greed: they may make a few extra
dollars by truncating that seat row, but they may be directly causing millions of dollars in costs to passengers.
Fees, Fees, Fees
TheDOT Notice of Proposed Rulemaking contains a number of proposals on airline fees. First, they think that the airlines need to disclose all those junk fees up front, so that we can make informed decisions regarding real ticket prices. Kate appeared on theFox Business Channel Friday, discussing this very issue. They
also say that if we have to pay an airline $25 to $50 to deliver our
bag to us at our destination, then they should deliver the bag at destination! If not, give us our money back, they say.
These and the other proposals are absolutely reasonable, but, of course, the forces of the airlines and their supporting organizations are rallying to fight them. "Reasonable" and "airline" are not words normally seen in the same sentence, we fear.
The Airline Transport Association, true to form, has issued a statement of objection to the DOT's suggestion that airlines should return money for unfulfilled contracts, like baggage delivery. If you and your bag don't arrive at the same place at the same time, the airline has failed to fulfill their contract with you, and the money involved in that contract should be returned to you. Carl Unger published a wonderful article on the Smarter Travel web site, stating the ATA's objections and then demolishing them, one by one. Please take a minute to click on that article.
Friends, the airlines will do whatever falls under the "Because They Can" category until we stand up and tell them they can't. None
of this regulation activity- any of it- need have happened, but most
airlines have acted without regard for us, and with total regard for
their bottom line, for so long that it's obvious the government needs to step in.
Kate talked with USA Today's Gary Stoller last week, discussing the fee issue. To read his article, click here.
MSNBC asked Kate to weigh in on the tarmac delay rule controversy again, and she did that in theinterview for this story.
We are commited to solutions for promoting airline passenger policies that forward first and foremost the safety of all passengers while not imposing unrealistic economic burdens that adversely affect airline profitability or create exhorbitant ticket price increases.
All American air carriers shall abide by the following standards to ensure the safety, security and comfort of their passengers:
Establish procedures to respond to all passenger complaints within 24 hours and with appropriate resolution within 2 weeks.
Notify passengers within ten minutes of a delay of known diversions, delays and cancellations via airport overhead announcement, on aircraft announcement, and posting on airport television monitors.
Establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gate when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate.
Provide for the essential needs of passengers during air- or ground-based delays of longer than 3 hours, including food, water, sanitary facilities, and access to medical attention.
Provide for the needs of disabled, elderly and special needs passengers by establishing procedures for assisting with the moving and retrieving of baggage, and the moving of passengers from one area of airport to another at all times by airline personnel.
Publish and update monthly on the company’s public web site a list of chronically delayed flights, meaning those flight delayed thirty minutes or more, at least forty percent of the time, during a single month.
Compensate “bumped” passengers or passengers delayed due to flight cancellations or postponements of over 12 hours by refund of 150% of ticket price.
The formal implementation of a Passenger Review Committee, made up of non-airline executives and employees but rather passengers and consumers – that would have the formal ability to review and investigate complaints.
Make lowest fare information, schedules and itineraries, cancellation policies and frequent flyer program requirements available in an easily accessed location and updated in real-time.
Ensure that baggage is handled without delay or injury; if baggage is lost or misplaced, the airline shall notify customer of baggage status within 12 hours and provide compensation equal to current market value of baggage and its contents.
Require that these rights apply equally to all airline code-share partners including international partners.