American Airlines Is Still Shrinking Legroom on Its New Planes – Just Not as Much

(The Washington Post) - American Airlines has reversed course on a plan to cram passengers in tighter on a new fleet of aircraft, the company said Tuesday.

Sort of.

Instead of cutting two inches of legroom, the airline says it will now take away only one inch – and use a new seat design that it swears will make it feel like there’s more room down there.

The move comes after public outcry over American’s move to shrink legroom, which was announced right about the time United Airlines dragooned a passenger off a plane and Congress berated airline executives for their poor treatment of passengers.

A day after the Capitol Hill scolding, word got out that American planned to sandwich more passengers into its new Boeing 737 Max aircraft by reducing the legroom from 31 inches to 29 inches in the main cabin. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who co-sponsored legislation to establish minimum seating standards based on comfort and safety, said the move seemed like a slap at Congress. Passengers, too, wasted little time letting the airline know how they felt.

“It is clear today, airline customers feel increasingly frustrated by their experience and less valued when they fly,” the airline said Tuesday, with a knack for understatement.

Now, the distance between rows of seats – known as pitch – will only shrink to 30 inches. However, the aircraft will still contain 172 seats by using a seat made by Rockwell Collins Interior Systems that is thinner, lighter and configured to be more comfortable than old seats that apparently were designed by Torquemada.

“These seats are designed to make efficient use of the space available and feel more spacious so a 30-inch pitch will feel more like today’s 31 inches,” the company said in a statement. A similar configuration will be used on its 737-800 aircraft, the airline said.

Consider this American’s way of “re-accommodating” passengers.