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What’s Behind the Airline Passenger Recline Rage?

Reclining-Airline-seat-horrorIn recent weeks there have been a handful flights that have reported passenger disputes over reclining seats.  While the reclining seat issue is no doubt a forward and back debate, one thing is for certain: there’s a real sense of recline rage that’s emerging among today’s passengers.  But is this to be expected?  After all, seat legroom is shrinking, most flights continue to operate at capacity, and let’s face it – people aren’t getting any nicer.

According to, the standard airline seat once had 33 to 34 inches of room between a seat and the one in front. That measurement, known as the pitch, has fallen in many airlines to about 31 inches.

Additionally, many first-class seats run about 21 inches wide, about the same size as a typical Amtrak train seat, but still smaller than many movie seats.  However, seats in economy are just 17 inches wide.  Airlines thus are able to put more seats in each row, so that the coach section not only feels more cramped, it looks like a sardine can.

That said, if you’re not up for being packaged like a sardine – and traveling makes you a little “salty” to begin with – you may want to consider purchasing a seat with extra leg room.  For example, Virgin Atlantic will give you an extra 3 inches for $60 each way.  Sanity, after all, comes at a price.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • The Aloft hotel in Cupertino, California – located directly across the street from Apple’s corporate campus – has started testing a pair of robotic bellhops named “Botlrs” – wheeled service vehicles designed to deliver small items from the front desk to a client’s room autonomously.  They’re designed to look like none other than R2D2 from Star Wars.  Okay, so these may be the droids you’re looking for.
  • According to Bloomberg-BusinessWeek, Southwest is also no longer the low-fare leader in many cities, having steadily raised prices in recent years.  Southwest’s average one-way fare rose 8 percent, to $163, over the past year.  The lowest nonstop one-way fare from Chicago to Los Angeles on Southwest, American, United, and Virgin America, for instance, was $156.10 on Sept. 10.  That was $44 more than Spirit’s cheapest.
  • You may have heard or seen the hit TV series “Storage Wars” or “Auction Hunters” where people bid on the unknown contents of storage lockers.  Well, now mystery luggage auctions have also become big business.  Scores of suitcases are routinely found abandoned by absent-minded travelers at Heathrow Airport in London.  The airport is unable to trace around 200 of them a month, and most of the time they end up at Greasby’s auction house in south London, which takes a commission from sales then passes the proceeds to the relevant airline.  Be looking for it on the the next auction reality series.

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