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Anyone else fed up with "Too little Personal space" on aircraft in general?


shiner6
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I know I will probably get a lot of unsolicited rude remarks for this subject, but I really want to know if I am in the minority.  I just returned from my first international trip.  The cruise was marvelous. The flights "not so much".  We encountered many obstacles including; late flights, re-timed flights, overbooked flights and cramped flights.   The worst part by far, was the cramped quarters, even after paying extra for bulkhead and exit row seating.  We "rolled with the other changes, but the lack of personal space left me in shock.  I disliked it so much that I have cancelled my next 2 trips which involve long flights.  I am seriously reconsidering my future travel plans, trying to look at places where I can drive to instead.   Please don't rub it in that you can afford business or first class--that is not possible for me.   We had to pay a king's ransom in order to upgrade to something called "economy delight" on Virgin Atlantic in order to get 3 additional inches of leg space on our return flight.  (Almost $1800 for 2 seats). It was NOT worth it.

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4 hours ago, shiner6 said:

I know I will probably get a lot of unsolicited rude remarks for this subject, but I really want to know if I am in the minority.  I just returned from my first international trip.  The cruise was marvelous. The flights "not so much".  We encountered many obstacles including; late flights, re-timed flights, overbooked flights and cramped flights.   The worst part by far, was the cramped quarters, even after paying extra for bulkhead and exit row seating.  We "rolled with the other changes, but the lack of personal space left me in shock.  I disliked it so much that I have cancelled my next 2 trips which involve long flights.  I am seriously reconsidering my future travel plans, trying to look at places where I can drive to instead.   Please don't rub it in that you can afford business or first class--that is not possible for me.   We had to pay a king's ransom in order to upgrade to something called "economy delight" on Virgin Atlantic in order to get 3 additional inches of leg space on our return flight.  (Almost $1800 for 2 seats). It was NOT worth it.

 

I have no idea if this will be helpful.

First, you are definitely not alone in having trouble with the cramped quarters in coach/economy.

We can no longer do that for a flight of any length, and certainly not for really long haul!

 

We started using awards for the business class international travel, and we've done that on some *very* nice top airlines.  In addition to trying to charge just about *everything* to get those points (although we won't pay extra for that; we just charge rather than cash or a check, etc.), the significant bonus points for opening new charge cards can be 60k to 100k per person per card.  So, if we each get a new awards-linked card every year or two (or so...), that helps get those awards counts up nicely.

 

Because those bonus points are free, they really up the "value" of the points that we use (compared with if we had gotten cash back, or such).

 

It's worked very well for us.  We've had several *long* flights that we absolutely loved (yes!), and in one case, I would have been happy to fly back and forth once more (DH laughed, but I was serious, albeit there was never any opportunity to do that, of course).

 

Since we realized that flights of any length in economy/coach are no longer doable for us, there has only been one time when we had to pay for business class, when there simply was *no* way to do that trip using points.  So we held our noses and paid for those tickets, and ... hope we never need to do that again!

 

We do make sure that we are likely to get (subject to always possible equipment changes) nice seat/beds; some of them can be almost coffin-like, although those are not as common any more.

 

GC

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Space on a plane is money. You want more space,  it's going to cost more. Simple as that.

 

Getting a plane from point from point A to point B has a lot of fixed and locked in costs. So more space equals less seats on the plane, so each seat will cost more. Again,  simple as that.

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Without getting too much into the weeds, let's discuss "space" on an aircraft.  As Bruce describes, space is money.  It's a question of generating the most revenue from the available "real estate" on the airplane.

 

What has happened is mostly densification in terms of seat pitch.  Pitch is the distance between two of the same points on an airline seat between rows.  For example, front of the seat cushion in row 16 to the front of the seat cushion in row 17. Airlines have moved rows closer together, often combining this with thinner seats and padding, so the pitch is decreased.  This allows for more seats, resulting in greater potential revenue.  But this also has created a market for selling seats with greater pitch.

 

Apparently, the OP does not think that the space provided in those extra room rows is enough.  Not quite sure how much room he actually wants - and since there is no mention of the specific airline and aircraft he found so unappealing, it's hard to discuss.

 

There is plenty of information out there to let you know what kind of space you are getting on any particular aircraft and airline.  But sadly, most people just think of air travel as a commodity and don't go beyond just price in their buying decisions.  The tale of American Airlines and "More Room Throughout Coach" is a glaring example.  AA wanted to offer a better coach experience and get a slight revenue premium in return.  Instead, the market pummeled them, as customers simply looked for the cheapest option.

 

One more thing....seat width.  Suffice to say that the cabin width of today's 737 is exactly the same as that of the old 727.  And the 707.  Maybe it's the difference between load factors in the 90s today vs in the 50s and 60s decades ago.

 

 

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@FlyerTalker, has there  been a marked decrease in seat pitch in recent years?  I've flown internationally on United and Air Canada. American is coming up this summer.  I think the coach experience to Europe was 'fine'. Now do I actually enjoy it? No.  But it's a 'bus' ride. Domestically we do 85% SWA with some Alaska thrown in. Again, in my eyes that product has been pretty stable.  And like anyone, we've had our typical flight delays/cancellations. Something one just has to deal with.

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32 minutes ago, FlyerTalker said:

There is plenty of information out there to let you know what kind of space you are getting on any particular aircraft and airline.  But sadly, most people just think of air travel as a commodity and don't go beyond just price in their buying decisions.  The tale of American Airlines and "More Room Throughout Coach" is a glaring example.  AA wanted to offer a better coach experience and get a slight revenue premium in return.  Instead, the market pummeled them, as customers simply looked for the cheapest option.

This is not aimed at the OP, but it never ceases to amaze me that people will put WAY more research into a decision about what vacuum cleaner or microwave oven to purchase compared to a plane ticket costing five or ten times as much.  

 

Of course caveat emptor and all that, but one CAN be a smart consumer of air travel, making for more pleasant journeys, if one is prepared to invest the hours (and maybe a few dollars) needed to know what you're getting.  

 

Example.  From time to time (typically a couple or three times a year) most airlines have "sales" on frequent flyer miles that you can buy for money.  Sometimes with various discounts and bonuses, you can buy miles for around (US) 2 cents per mile or a little less, sometimes even as little as 1.5 cents per mile if you buy a bunch.

 

Let's say you spring for 100,000 miles, at an out-of-pocket cost of $1500.  Maybe you've already gotten a credit card that awards miles in the same airline program, and you got a signup bonus of, say, 40,000 miles when you did.  

 

You go online and see that you can redeem 130,000 miles for a round trip in business class to Europe, using that airline or any of its partners.  You then look at some online booking service (or the airline itself) to see what it would take to purchase a business class round trip, and you discover that it's somewhere between $2500 and $3000 (or more) for the same dates.  For summer travel to Europe, the price in ordinary economy is probably in the $1000+ range, even $1200 - $1500 for "premium economy."

 

Book the flights using miles, ride on a flat bed with plenty of personal space, not to mention higher complimentary baggage allowance, use of the airport lounges at both ends, expedited boarding, better food and booze aloft, all that.  All that has cost about what an ordinary cattle class seat would have cost.  

 

All it took was some research; not a heavy lift at all.  See what I mean?

Edited by Gardyloo
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On 6/25/2023 at 2:49 PM, shiner6 said:

We had to pay a king's ransom in order to upgrade to something called "economy delight" on Virgin Atlantic in order to get 3 additional inches of leg space on our return flight.  (Almost $1800 for 2 seats). It was NOT worth it.

 

 

$1800 to upgrade to Economy Delight (knowing what I know about it) does sound on the expensive side, but the airlines are pretty well segmented in terms of offering different products for different needs and wallet sizes. The majority of the flying public are in the cheapest seats and only a very small percentage of them don't survive the flight. If you can't afford or justify anything above economy then you have two options:

1) Don't fly

2) Suck it up

 

As you've said there are other options and a little research is all that's needed. There are some longhaul low cost carriers that offer premium options (not dissimilar to domestic FC with a bit more room/recline) such as Norse. Are there potential pitfalls? Sure. 

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Even if you can supposedly afford business class, the pricing models lately are outrageous. I've been pricing one-way business class fares from Guatemala to Vancouver for next year's cruise. The first seat in business class on the date we want costs only $720. I put it on hold and confirmed it was the very first seat sold when choosing seats. So then I went through to put another one on hold for DH - the price for the second business class seat jumped to $3419!!! How can they possibly justify that wild of a swing in price? No other word for it than greed. 

And for those wondering why I went through to buy 1 at a time, I've learned that if you see "1 seat available", it will be cheaper to purchase them separately than together. I did an incognito window and a VPN for the second one but the price was still $3419. I found that by flying the day before for the same flight times, I could get tickets at $712 + $1080.

 

Guess we're going a day earlier! 😉

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48 minutes ago, DebInAntigua said:

Even if you can supposedly afford business class, the pricing models lately are outrageous.

 

Actually, the pricing model is extremely rational and well thought out.  Many many very well paid intelligent analysts created the "model".

 

51 minutes ago, DebInAntigua said:

The first seat in business class on the date we want costs only $720. I put it on hold and confirmed it was the very first seat sold when choosing seats.

 

Checking a seat map in no way confirms that it was the "first seat sold".  Seat maps are notoriously inaccurate - unless you have direct access to the airline's inventory management numbers, it is at best a rough guess.

 

53 minutes ago, DebInAntigua said:

So then I went through to put another one on hold for DH - the price for the second business class seat jumped to $3419!!! How can they possibly justify that wild of a swing in price? No other word for it than greed.

 

No.  The phrase you are looking for is "Yield management".  Do some reading up on the subject.

 

53 minutes ago, DebInAntigua said:

I did an incognito window and a VPN for the second one but the price was still $3419.

 

I see....another believer in "the airline uses cookies and jacks up the price if they see you looking at a flight a couple times".

 

Wanna know why prices are different when you check at another time?  Because the underlying inventory and yield management algorithms have changed.  Not because you looked once or twice before.

 

 

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I like Gardyloo's example of how and when to purchase miles to plan a future flight with great seats and the example does work.

The one down side to keep in mind to this strategy is that by using miles to get that flight is that now you are considered a non-rev passenger. The miles you fly do not earn qualifying miles towards your elite status. This can be a minor inconvenience.

I can only speak for myself, but after 25 years of traveling for business and now being retired for a few years, I'm finding that I enjoyed those early boarding benefits that my elite status brought me.

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On 6/25/2023 at 11:49 AM, shiner6 said:

We encountered many obstacles including; late flights, re-timed flights, overbooked flights and cramped flights.

As flying has become more affordable over the years, it has been somewhat of a "race to the bottom" for just about every carrier with seat pitch - the amount of leg room being reduced substantially.  It used to be about 33-34" on long haul economy and now has dropped to about 30" - on almost all western carriers.

 

On 6/25/2023 at 11:49 AM, shiner6 said:

I disliked it so much that I have cancelled my next 2 trips which involve long flights.  I am seriously reconsidering my future travel plans, trying to look at places where I can drive to instead.

Certainly that is your choice to give up, but there are alternatives to consider.  First and foremost is to be flexible in terms of your scheduling to get better pricing on premium seats.  The day you fly can make a huge difference in the price of tickets.  You can also consider alternate cities.  I have an upcoming trip to Spain and rather than flying into and out of Madrid or Barcelona, I am flying into smaller cities. Just picking these alternate cities and date flexibility is providing me with big savings in terms of my ticket price (at least 50%.)

 

There are also a couple of discount airlines that provide a "premium seat" for long haul flights. This includes airlines like Norse Atlantic for European travel and Zipair to Japan.  Zipair is really interesting in that you can get a "lie flat" seat.  I see that you are in the DFW area so this would likely involve a separate domestic flight to take one of these airlines.

 

I won't comment on the frequent flier miles as this has already been covered.

 

Finally, the one US airline that has the best coach seat in the US would be JetBlue.  They fly to Europe and their seats are probably the best in terms of basic legroom.  Finally, they fly the A320 aircraft which are also a bit wider than single aisle Boeing aircraft like the 737.

 

On 6/26/2023 at 8:37 AM, FlyerTalker said:

The tale of American Airlines and "More Room Throughout Coach" is a glaring example.  AA wanted to offer a better coach experience and get a slight revenue premium in return.

Those were great days!  It's interesting that JetBlue has been able to maintain a better seat pitch than their competitors for many years.  Maybe they have figured out how to save money in other areas.

 

On 6/26/2023 at 4:34 PM, DebInAntigua said:

I've been pricing one-way business class fares from Guatemala to Vancouver for next year's cruise... I found that by flying the day before for the same flight times, I could get tickets at $712 + $1080.

Seems like a lot.  I am not sure of your date, but one way flights on Aeromexico can be had for $1100 for two tickets for travel next Spring.

 

13 hours ago, klfrodo said:

but after 25 years of traveling for business and now being retired for a few years, I'm finding that I enjoyed those early boarding benefits that my elite status brought me.

I retired last November.  I enjoy having much more flexibility in picking my dates for travel. 

Edited by SelectSys
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On 6/27/2023 at 7:29 AM, klfrodo said:

The one down side to keep in mind to this strategy is that by using miles to get that flight is that now you are considered a non-rev passenger. The miles you fly do not earn qualifying miles towards your elite status. This can be a minor inconvenience.

I know that you do earn MQM on Delta and I believe also on United on award seats. However, I believe that you do not on American.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We are seniors and when traveling factor in business class in our costs to get to/fm cruises.  There are several good airlines flying across the Pond which offer good options, to include Air Portugal (TAP) and Turkish airlines.  Also check co-share flights.  Several years ago who booked an Antartica cruise and discovered that flying on a US carrier was triple the cost of flying Aerolineas Argentinas code-share on the same airplane/flight between MIA-EZE-USH.  

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On 6/25/2023 at 1:49 PM, shiner6 said:

I know I will probably get a lot of unsolicited rude remarks for this subject, but I really want to know if I am in the minority.  I just returned from my first international trip.  The cruise was marvelous. The flights "not so much".  

 

Since you are in Fort Worth (and I in Dallas), the question becomes "Why not American Airlines?" since DFW is the HQ and hub airport for that airline. As I'm getting older, I'm placing more of a premium on finding a "non-stop" flight and perhaps paying a little bit more for "Main Cabin" seats rather than "Basic Economy" seats. Having said that, during my recent trip on AA, I did not leave my window seat at all during both directions my 3 hour flight. 

 

All I can do, as a passenger, is to make the process as painless as possible, and that also means having Global Entry which includes TSA Pre-Check. 

Edited by Z'Loth
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Thank you all for your great suggestions.  I will look into them in the future. In the meantime, I have changed rearranged all of my travel plans for at least the next year. We are going to stay in the US and drive for now.  My big plans for Budapest and Prague have been replaced with Yellowstone and Jackson with extended family and friends, so I am happy about that.  Oh, yes, I finally had my appointment for Global entry LOL!

Edited by shiner6
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On 6/25/2023 at 2:49 PM, shiner6 said:

Please don't rub it in that you can afford business or first class--that is not possible for me. 

Have you considered “premium” seating, offered by several airlines on international flights? On Delta (my airline of choice) it’s called Premium Select. It’s a hybrid between economy and first class. Only a few rows in a separate cabin, seats are a bit wider, more legroom and footrest, bigger seat back TV’s, and enhanced meal selections. 
 

I consider them to be a great bargain, and they are frequently considerably cheaper than a first class seat. I’ve experienced it on 10-14 hour flights and it’s well worth the extra money.

 

Another alternative is to look at airlines like Norse. They are considered a low cost airline, but you can purchase a premium seat for about the same price you’d pay for a regular economy class seat on one of the bigger airlines. Main drawback is that they have a limited schedule and only serve a handful of cities, but you could purchase airfare from where you live to, for example, JFK, and then take Norse across the Atlantic from there. 

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On 7/18/2023 at 9:23 PM, Tapi said:

Have you considered “premium” seating, offered by several airlines on international flights? On Delta (my airline of choice) it’s called Premium Select. It’s a hybrid between economy and first class. Only a few rows in a separate cabin, seats are a bit wider, more legroom and footrest, bigger seat back TV’s, and enhanced meal selections. 
 

I consider them to be a great bargain, and they are frequently considerably cheaper than a first class seat. I’ve experienced it on 10-14 hour flights and it’s well worth the extra money.

 

Another alternative is to look at airlines like Norse. They are considered a low cost airline, but you can purchase a premium seat for about the same price you’d pay for a regular economy class seat on one of the bigger airlines. Main drawback is that they have a limited schedule and only serve a handful of cities, but you could purchase airfare from where you live to, for example, JFK, and then take Norse across the Atlantic from there. 

Yes, I purchased Premium seats on my return flight on Virgin Atlantic coming from London to the US, they charged me an additional $971 for each seat which I thought was outrageous for a few extra inches, but at least it was slightly better than the extra economy bulkhead seat on the flight to London.

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On 6/25/2023 at 2:49 PM, shiner6 said:

The worst part by far, was the cramped quarters, even after paying extra for bulkhead and exit row seating. 

 

If you paid extra for exit row and felt it was cramped, you probably had unrealistic expectations going in. 

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On 6/26/2023 at 7:34 PM, DebInAntigua said:

The first seat in business class on the date we want costs only $720. I put it on hold and confirmed it was the very first seat sold when choosing seats. So then I went through to put another one on hold for DH - the price for the second business class seat jumped to $3419!!! How can they possibly justify that wild of a swing in price? No other word for it than greed. 

I understand your frustration but it's not really greed for a corporation to try to maximize profits.  It's smart business.  If someone is willing to pay $3419, why would they not charge that?  We could go back to the days before airline deregulation when, accounting for inflation, airline travel was much more expensive than it is now. 

Prices are dictated by supply and demand. Right now, supply is down- A lot of airlines got rid of older planes and a lot of crew during covid and they're still playing catch up.  Meanwhile, demand is high due to so many people not traveling for several years and trying to make up for it now. 

I look at some of the prices they ask and think "no way" but somebody must be paying them, and I say good for them. 

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  • 5 weeks later...

Thanks all. I posted separately on my frustration with searching for and pricing flights these days, asking for advice but after reading this thread, I realize I need to approach this challenge with more initial research and information. Appreciate the suggestions offered here. 

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2 hours ago, Islander500 said:

Thanks all. I posted separately on my frustration with searching for and pricing flights these days, asking for advice but after reading this thread, I realize I need to approach this challenge with more initial research and information. Appreciate the suggestions offered here. 

 

Always happy to give you the straight, direct facts about air travel.  Yes, research and knowledge are your keys.

 

The info provided here in Cruise Air may not be the softest and fluffiest, but it's the real scoop.  Most all of us regulars are realists and will give help for those that want genuine assistance.

 

So if you want help with your challenge, fire away.

 

 

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41 minutes ago, FlyerTalker said:

 

Always happy to give you the straight, direct facts about air travel.  Yes, research and knowledge are your keys.

 

The info provided here in Cruise Air may not be the softest and fluffiest, but it's the real scoop.  Most all of us regulars are realists and will give help for those that want genuine assistance.

 

So if you want help with your challenge, fire away.

 

 

TY.  Any suggestions on finding one-way fares? I used to book through Choice Air and always got good one-way fares that worked well with TAs. Not finding that anymore.  

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ITA Matrix is always a good source.

 

One thing to remember is that while the advantage of buying round trips is pretty much gone within North America, across the Atlantic there is still a strong use of round-trips as a way to protect revenue margins for the major carriers.  That includes UA, DL and AA.

 

For one ways across the Atlantic, one often needs to look at smaller carriers such as Aer Lingus and TAP.  Also, don't insist on pricing your ticket from your home airport.  Look at pricing from international gateways for various carriers, and consider taking a positioning flight to then take advantage of a lower one-way price.

 

For example.....say you live in Portland OR.  You want a one way to Europe, but the ticket prices from PDX are high.  Stop and then take a look at pricing from SFO or LAX or SEA.  You may find that it is worth buying a separate ticket to get to SFO, then a one-way TATL.

 

Now, there are caveats.  You will have to claim luggage and recheck in for your second flight.  And if there are delays on your first flight, you have no protection for the second, as you are simply a no-show.  So you have to make a number of considerations.  But things can be done, even if there aren't lower-cost one ways from your home airport.  It requires some creativity and some planning and thought.

 

Finally - there is no simple, this is the cheapest, way to get tickets.  It takes time, research, thought and planning.

 

 

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