Aside from hiking up prices, the one thing that really annoys passengers is reducing their space. At 30,000 feet, personal space is money and we are willing to pay for more legroom or an emergency exit seat. So it comes as no surprise that travellers on the American Airlines 737-800 routes are not happy. After saying it wouldn’t happen, it seems it will. The American Airlines Densification program has begun with the airline cramming in more seats than ever before per 737-800.
What’s going on with American Airlines Space Reduction?
Back in June, AA made headlines with their new mini-toilet. First of all, they installed outward opening doors, allowing them to create a smaller toilet. But there were headaches with these. The door can collide with each other as well as people. Also, it’s just too small.
This was one of the most notable parts of ‘Project Oasis.’ But we would argue, it took everyone’s minds off the real issue – seats.
Project Oasis is just a better name for American Airlines Space Reduction program. After CEO Doug Parker told employees they were not taking out larger bathrooms and adding a bunch more seats, fundamentally, it turns out they are. The company have just started retro fitting their second plane. The 737-800 was originally fitted out with 150 seats, US Airways added 10 more seats to bring this up to 160 and now American will add 12 more to get 172 seats. In addition, they will be ripping out the standard toilet and replacing it with the mini version.
When American Airlines takes delivery of new the Boeing 737 MAX (which have also been taken up by VietJet), more seats will be squeezed into the same airplane frame than before. Many are seeing the MAX as the standard setter for American now as they scramble to retro fit the 737-800 to match.
More seats – less space
Of course, more seats means a lower fuel per passenger ratio, but it also means an ever so slightly more stressful experience. Passengers value comfortable seats, even in economy. In order to fit more seats in, things have changed. As mentioned already, the toilets have gotten smaller, they’re also reducing the legroom space in coach. In Main Cabin Extra (their extra legroom offering) and in First Class, you’ll now be sitting a little closer to the passenger in front of you.
And here’s what the Boeing 737 Max layout will look like with American Airlines’ 172 seats.
On the plus side, the Boeing 737 Max has bigger overhead bins. But it will need more bin space if more flyers want to use the space. Still, this addresses many issues. To date, the American Airlines 737-800 only had around 75% of the overhead bag space needed. The new bins will let passengers store regular cabin bags sideways. This will ensure everyone will be able to bring a bag on, not just those who board first.
It will also have a much more reliable ground to plane Wi-Fi system. This is also connected to disappearing inflight screens. Travellers will now be expected to stream their own in-flight entertainment.
However, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. But here too, things are not great. In recent reviews, travellers in First have been complaining that the seats are too thin and don’t have enough padding. And we wonder, if you’re not impressing those in First, that’s a bad sign.