Yikes! American Airlines Is Reducing Legroom Again

The major carrier is making its economy seating even more cramped.

Flying economy is already a tight fit, and unfortunately, those small areas are about to get a lot worse for those on American Airlines.

American wants to add more seats on its new Boeing 737 Max jetliners. The easiest solution? Apparently, cutting two inches of front-to-back space in some of its economy seating. That means the already tight 31 inches will drop to a paltry 29 inches in some areas, and from 31 to 30 inches in others.

American's Not the Only One

Apparently, American Airlines isn't the only one tightening things up. United may also be considering a similar move. Low-cost airlines like Spirit and Frontier already have smaller seat areas as well; however, the discomfort is usually offset by the affordable prices on these lines. It remains to be seen whether American's new tighter digs will compete with those budget ticket prices.

How Much Worse Can Flying Economy Get?

Recently, major airlines have come under fire for a number of incidents. The elderly doctor being hauled off the United flight a few weeks ago went viral. It was followed by an American Airlines passenger becoming upset after her baby was almost hit by an allegedly irate flight attendant. (The attendant was dismissed from duty, and contrary to early reports, no one was hit with a stroller.) And just a few days ago, Delta kicked an entire family off a flight. (Delta has since apologized for the incident.)

Most travelers will likely never have to worry about these major incidents, but airlines are making other sweeping measures that affect budget and economy class. Back in January, United and American both began offering low-cost fares that were severely restricted. The budget fares don't include overhead bin usage, and passengers with these tickets board last and don't choose their seats.

But at least budget passengers will still receive the same snacks and entertainment as those in the main cabin. For now, anyway.

Readers, what do you think? Will this affect your choice to fly more? Will you opt for budget airlines instead? Let us know in the comments below!

Julie Ramhold
Senior Staff Writer/Consumer Analyst

Julie's work has been featured on CNBC, GoBankingRates, Kiplinger, Marketwatch, Money, The New York Times, Real Simple, US News, WaPo, WSJ, Yahoo!, and more. She's extolled the virtues of DealNews in interviews with Cheddar TV, GMA, various podcasts, and affiliates across the United States, plus one in Canada.
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I used to love flying but now it's the absolute worst part of any vacation or trip. It has become a necessary evil to me. I wouldn't mind as much if I could afford 1st class, but the price is only half the problem. And I've started to literally despise the 737 and the 320. I understand the 737x is a great airplane but for once I'd like to fly on something else. That has taken a lot of fun out of flying for me. Being cramped in a 737 from Ft Lauderdale to San Francisco is pathetic.
I am no fan of US airlines, but to play devil's advocate here, the traveling public MUST accept its portion of the blame in this race to the bottom. It is very well-documented that passengers frequently choose their carrier based on price and price alone. If it's $5 cheaper to fly Carrier Y instead of Carrier X, they'll go with Y, even though the product and service is subpar. What possible incentive have we given airlines to improve the flying experience when time and time again, we show them that all we care about is the very lowest price?
I keep hoping that people will finally reach a breaking point, and all these effort to squeeze more and more seats into less and less space will result in such low sales that one of these airlines just goes out of business. In the meantime, at the very least, the airlines should prevent people from full reclining.
Gosh, won't they risk making their passengers cranky?
I do not care. I care about price, safe and timely arrival. Flights less than 8 hours do not matter to me. Make it affordable pack'em in like cattle. We all need to get along better anyway.
If I can't get there by car, train or ship, I don't go. Haven't flown in years and have no intentions to ever again.

Congratulations to the airlines and to those who deregulated them and allowed all the mega-mergers.
American Airlines has been screwing their employees, and passengers for years and years. They will go chapter 11 soon enough.
How Much Worse Can Flying Economy Get? BTO (Bachman-Turner Overdrive for those born too late) put it best with the lyrics "B-b-b-baby, you just ain't seen n-n-nothin' yet".