ATW Online; Monday 24 September 2018
American CEO defends 737 MAX seat, lavatory sizes

American Airlines chairman and CEO Doug Parker defended seat and lavatory sizes on the carrier’s new fleet of Boeing 737 MAX airliners during an opening presentation Sept. 24 at the Airline Passenger Experience (APEX) Expo in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Dallas/Fort Worth-based carrier was criticized last year for its plan to install seats with 29 in. of pitch on the 100 new Boeing 787-8s it started receiving last September. The reaction caused the airline to change course and install economy seats with 30-in. seat pitch, still less than the 31-in. seat pitch on its 737-800s.

Commonly called leg room, airline seat pitch is the distance between a point on one seat and the same point on the seat directly in front of it.

Parker, who recently flew on the 737-8 for the first time, acknowledged that American could have done a better job describing the new seat dimensions. But he also believes the concept of seat pitch is not well understood by passengers.

“That 30-in. pitch, having done it myself, is much more comfortable than our existing 31-in. pitch on an MD-80. It feels like a much better product,” he related. “I think the whole definition of pitch needs to be better understood. The fact is that a seat is an inch [narrower] and more comfortable ... The traditional measure of simply pitch, and comparing pitch to aircraft that have very different seats, doesn’t really give the customer what they need to know about the amount of space they have.”

[On the smaller lavatory dimensions], Parker responded: “In this case, Boeing did a nice job of designing a bathroom that is a couple inches narrower than the one we’ve had in the past. Real estate inside the cabin is incredibly valuable. Our customers care greatly about that, so if we can give them two more inches inside the cabin by having our bathrooms two inches narrower - as Delta has done, as Southwest has done - I think that’s a good thing. We haven’t had complaints about it - we’ve had some [negative] press about it.”

By: Bill Carey
NS Comment: 29-inch seat pitch sucks. LCC brand is not an excuse to cram pax in like sardines. Having negative press must count as complaints.