Question: Airline passengers, how do you spell torture?
Wonder how much worse can commercial air travel get? Keep an eye on Spirit Airlines, which is determined to show the way to the bottom of the barrel. Each week, Spirit seems to have a new idea to lower standards of comfort, convenience and customer service.
A spokeswoman for the airline calls them “pre-reclined” seats.
What “recline” is she talking about? The seats are about 17 1/2 inches wide with a 28-inch pitch – that means they are the shortest in the industry! The website www.seatguru.com calls Spirit’s seating “the worst” in the industry.
But all the better, it seems, to jam in more seats, and more passengers. Spirit already jams in at least 178 seats on its A320′s, even though Airbus says the plane was designed to “comfortably” seat 164. Airbus says the A320-200 has an “absolute maximum” capacity of 180. Only two to go, Spirit! Keep jammin’!
So far, two of the planes (based in Fort Lauderdale) have the seats installed; two more are scheduled to have the seats installed by this summer.
Just last week, it was disclosed that Spirit plans to start charging up to $45 for carryon baggage – items that the Federal Aviation Administration previously stipulated passengers were entitled to carry on, presumably for free.
Also last week, European discount airline Ryanair said it was going to remove two of the three toilets on its planes, jam in six extra passenger seats, and charge passengers to use the one remaining onboard toilet.
What’s next? How long will it be before Spirit, Ryanair, or Marquis de Sade Airlines revives the Emirates airline’s short-lived plan – hotly denied by the airline – to hang passengers in harnesses, in a standing position, suspended from the plane’s ceiling? That was how Emirates hoped to pack up to 1,200 Mecca pilgrims into 500-800-passenger Airbus A380s.
Is the FAA ever going to “sit up and take notice”? Spirit’s passengers certainly are!
April 22, 2010