American Airlines has reacted to a furious customer backlash and abandoned plans to reduce seat pitch to just 29 inches in Economy Class on its new Boeing 737MAX jets. Unlike British Airways who will push ahead with their plans to cut leg room to 29 inches across the airline’s Airbus A320 and A321 fleet to “keep fares low”.
Elsewhere, United Airlines has said that 30-40% of their customers are choosing its new Basic Economy product – even though the airline knows passengers don’t like it. At least, passengers will be able to cheer themselves up with the new deep pan pizza available on select United flights.
Meanwhile, Emirates has had its wings clipped in China following two safety-related breaches. The airline has been banned from expanding its operations for 6 months. Finally, Virgin Atlantic is to open a ‘Departure Beach’ in Barbados to make the flight home a tiny bit better.
A full summary continues below.
American Airlines Abandons Plan to Cut Seat Pitch to Just 29 Inches
14th June 2017 – Courtesy Conde Nast Traveler
American Airlines has quickly rowed back from plans to trim up to two inches of seat pitch on its new Boeing 737MAX aircraft. American had planned to squeeze 172 passengers onto the new jets by reducing the pitch in three rows of economy to just 29 inches. The rest of the economy section would then have 30 inches of seat pitch in what the airline tried to say was “designed to maximise personal living space”.
“It is clear that today, airline customers feel increasingly frustrated by their experiences and less valued when they fly,” said an American spokesperson, following the decision to abandon the plan. Having been inundated with feedback from disgruntled customers (and staff), the spokesperson went on to say:
“We can be leaders in helping to turn around that perception, and that includes reviewing decisions that have significant impact on the flying experience.”
However, the new aircraft will continue to seat 172 passengers. American plans to remove one row of Main Cabin Extra seats to make up for the shortfall.
United Airlines Says its Basic Economy Product is a Love/Hate Success with Passengers
15th June 2017 – Courtesy Skift
For a couple of months now, United Airlines has been selling Basic Economy fares on the majority of domestic routes. The new product doesn’t allow passengers to bring cabin bags on board (apart from a small handbag for example) and comes with a slew of restrictions.
The new fare class has been ridiculed by passengers but that hasn’t stopped people choosing the option to save $15-$20 per one-way fare. United’s chief financial officer, Andrew Levy, has said 30-40% of economy passengers are selecting the Basic option.
Speaking about managing passenger expectations, Levy commented: “Our biggest focus is that customers knew what they were buying,” he continued: “People are really not surprised.”
It comes as United introduces a new food option available for purchase – a deep dish pizza. The pizza’s, made by Uno Pizzeria & Grill will cost $9.99 and United plans to prepare and serve them in a skillet dish to “help the cheese brown and keep the crust crispy” For $13.99 passengers will be able to upgrade to a pizza and beer combo.
China Fines Emirates Over Alleged Safety Breaches: Bans Expansion for 6 Months
15th June 2017 – Courtesy Reuters
The dubai-based airline, Emirates has been banned from adding any new routes or aircraft to its Chinese operation for 6-months following two safety-related incidents. According to Reuters, China’s civil aviation authority has fined Emirates 29,000 yuan ($4,270 USD) and has even summoned Emirates managers to account for the two incidents.
The first happened on 17th April when an Emirates aircraft allegedly flew at the wrong height. On 18th May, a second Emirates aircraft apparently lost contact with air traffic control.
In the first six months of 2016, Emirates increased capacity on its Chinese routes by 8% so this ban could potentially push back the airline’s expansion plans in the country.
More Rumours About an Expanded Laptop Ban – Maybe, Maybe Not
16th June 2017 – Courtesy The Points Guy
John Kelly, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary has spoken with CNN about the so-called Laptop Ban and its potential expansion beyond the Middle East. He said there are approximately 70 airports that are currently under review and are being “considered for an expansion of the ban.”
That number includes airports in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Kelly told CNN that his department had given the airport’s in question a list of things to do in order to prevent a ban at their airport.
“Some of them are short-term, immediate, some of them are kind of moderately long, some of them are long-term, and some of them are even based on, as we develop new technology, the expectation is once it’s commercially available, you’ll buy it,” said Kelly.
CNN has speculated that a big consideration will the willingness of countries to share passenger information with U.S. authorities.
Virgin Holidays Creates an Airport Departure Lounge on the Beach
15th June 2017 – Courtesy Virgin Holidays
This summer, Virgin Holiday’s is introducing a World first – a departure beach in Barbados. The new service will allow air passengers to squeeze out every last minute of their holiday before being whisked to the airport, just in time to catch their flight home.
For an additional £20 fee, Virgin Holidays guests can gain access to the ‘departure beach’ where they can then check-in and drop their bags off. They can then enjoy complimentary drinks and snacks while relaxing on the beach. Luckily, the Departure Beach also comes with showers and changing facilities so that guests can freshen up before their flight home.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.