People that fly in a passenger airplane’s main cabin, known as “coach” or “economy” class, can’t be blamed for feeling less comfortable these days. If statistics from various authoritative air travel sources are any indicator, flying coach is something less pleasant than ever.
The Golden Age of Travel
Flying in coach wasn’t always a less-than-pleasing experience. In air travel’s golden age before deregulation in 1978, even coach flyers were feted with hot meals, free drinks, and spacious legroom.
Airline Bankruptcy Phenomenon
A large number of airlines went bankrupt in the mid-to-late 2000s, with many of them merging with fellow bankrupt air carriers. Before those bankruptcies, caused by excessive fuel and labor costs, for the most part, coach travel wasn’t entirely displeasing. For one, many airlines depended on high first class and business class fares to fund operations, and those fares also subsidized pleasant travel in coach.
Is Coach Less Comfortable?
Since their bankruptcies, however, airlines have become extremely cost conscious and focused on generating higher revenue-per-seat numbers. One way of generating more revenue in coach is by adding more seats. More seats in coach mean less space between seat rows and an uncomfortable experience. And no amount of trip protection coverage can change the ensuing physical discomfort from flying in a tightly packed airliner’s main cabin.
Today, most airlines have “decoupled” what were once traditional coach amenities, such as free checked bags. Gone are the days of the complimentary blanket and pillow, as well. And while a free soda pop and pretzels are available, anything more substantial is likely to cost a coach class airline passenger several dollars. Airlines now charge fees to coach customers for movies, headsets to listen to music, and even for certain aisle or window seats and early boarding privileges.
The Push for Revenue
According to many passenger opinion surveys, coach class boarding on increasingly packed airliners has become more stressful and a lot more hectic. Some airlines are even considering instituting an “economy minus” class, with seats smaller than those in regular coach.
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