Published On: Wed, May 17th, 2017

American Airlines to cut legroom; passengers will also feel the squeeze in bathrooms

American AirlinesDALLAS – In keeping with what appears to be a growing trend in commercial aviation, legroom is set to be trimmed on some American Airlines planes.

The reduction, which will put the airline on par with some budget carriers, will be introduced on American’s new Boeing 737 Max planes, scheduled to be delivered later this year.

Three rows on the aircraft will reportedly have 29 inches of legroom, representing a two-inch reduction from the current allocation.

Subject to confirmation, the rest of the plane will have 30 inches of legroom, and the Dallas-headquartered airline may refit its existing 737-800s to the same configuration.

CNN quoted a source as saying that the alterations will allow for ten extra seats to be added to the single-aisle aircraft. The new 737 Max planes are expected to have around 170 seats.

Although the adjustment edges American Airlines into budget territory with regard to seat spacing, it is reportedly doubtful that prices will reflect this. Passengers with less legroom will fork out the same as fellow economy passengers.

According to SeatGuru.com, Southwest Airlines operates with 31 inches of leg room on its 737s, while JetBlue operates with a minimum of 32 inches and a maximum of 41.

An American Airlines representative nevertheless maintained that customers will not feel the difference as new seats have been designed to “maximize personal living space while allowing more comfort, even in arrangements like this where legroom is a little tighter.”

The seat width will reportedly remain the same at 17.2 inches, while the “Main Cabin Extra” economy seats and 16 first class seats will also remain unchanged.

Bathroom space is also said to be getting a snip, and seat-back screens are set to be ditched.

Instead, in-flight entertainment is going DIY, with passengers connecting to the on-board library to watch free movies and TV shows, on their own personal devices.

“It makes sense for American to focus on giving customers the best entertainment and fast connection options rather than installing seat-back monitors that will be obsolete within a few years,” the airline explained in a statement.

Passengers tuning into the on-board entertainment library on their own devices can enjoy free music and video content, but to stream or surf the net they will have to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi at an as yet unspecified fee.

Anticipating passengers’ concerns that their personal devices won’t have sufficient battery power for an entire journey, American is adding power to every seat on much of its fleet, according to Skift.

American’s new single-aisle aircraft will reportedly take off later this year and will primarily be used for North American routes.

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