View Full Version : Court Win May Change Future of Air travel

24th Jan 2002, 02:06
Macclesfield Express (23rd Jan) has headline of a local man who has been awarded £500 against JMC Holidays for "failing to provide comfort on flight." Flight was by Airtours B767 to Canada & back. JMC considering appeal.. .Any further/more accurate news to this story?. .<a href="http://www.macclesfield-express.co.uk" target="_blank">www.macclesfield-express.co.uk</a>

Pilot Pete
24th Jan 2002, 02:34
The individual claimed he had suffered DVT a claim which the court did not uphold.

From Thomas Cook Tour Operations press release;. ."JMC is extremely disappointed by the conduct of the hearing and the decision to award damages for discomfort on a CAA licensed and operative aircraft, with a valid certificate of air-worthiness.

JMC is currently taking advice on lodging an appeal. JMC would stress that the safety and comfort of its customers is its priority, operating modern aircraft and using only reputable third party carriers, all of which adhere to the CAA guidelines".

It would appear that the court awarded this sum against jmc for 'discomfort'. If the seat pitch is too tight (I assume that is what caused his discomfort) then perhaps the regulatory authority should review what it allows. On the other hand the passenger could always choose to pay more and fly with a carrier with more legroom.


unwrapping the aog
24th Jan 2002, 02:37
Pilot Pete,

You just beat me to it, I can only add that the aircraft was perfectly serviceable and certified airworthy IAW the current regulation. . .I don't think £500 will break the bank but it's the start of a worrying trend.

24th Jan 2002, 05:19
30 inch pitch should be enough for all but long haul flights. Perhaps the chap should consider spending his 500 quid on a weightwatchers programme. :)

24th Jan 2002, 12:48

Would that reduce his height as well? the guy was 6ft tall and well proportioned, Airlines should start to think about what they are carrying, it aint swingin beef, we all need a little more space on any aircraft journey, and I for one would try to persuade anyone NOT to fly with a tight arse operation, which seems to cover the main holiday carriers! <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

24th Jan 2002, 12:55
Thats all very well Vfr, but the British Holiday punter wants to pay 99 quid for his/her family two weeks in Alicante, and expects to be given top service. Unfortunately there is always an airline prepared to offer that, which leads to more seats per a/c, smaller pitch, less comfort (poss safety?).

24th Jan 2002, 12:57
Well said vfrpilotpb.

Recent surveys have shown that the average size of your average Brit has risen by at least one and a half sizes in the last ten years. I think airlines should consider facts like these when arranging their seat pitches.

Recently I travelled to Paphos on a MON A300-600. I must stress I'm only 5'7" and of average proportions but I felt really cramped in the seat I was allocated (both ways!).

Perhaps schedule airlines who operate to IT destinations pitch their seats differently to charter airlines. Can anyone comment on this?

24th Jan 2002, 13:05
quite agree with vfrpilot.. .We went to the Gambia with JMC and paid extra for decent seats.In spite of this the seat pitch was a joke and when the people in front reclined their seats I couldn't even turn the page on my newspaper.I stood in the aisle for 3 hrs as it was more comfortable.

24th Jan 2002, 13:41
As a regular traveller I welcome this shot across the bows of the airlines. Although my personal experience of charter flights has been more favourable than that on economy travel with BA, my boss has just had a very worrying experience on a Britannia flight from Cairo to Gothenburg. The passenger next to him was thirsty and asked for a drink. He was told that any drink, even water, could only be purchased using Swedish krone or sterling. As he only had Egyptian money they would not serve him. Fortunately for him, and possibly Britannia if he had become ill, my boss bought the drink for him. As I understand that drinking water is highly recommended to reduce the risk of DVT, this seems to be totally unacceptable and airlines who practice this should, in my view, be severely dealt with by the courts.

Pilot Pete
24th Jan 2002, 13:44
Listen guys

I'm not defending tight seat pitches, I'm six foot tall and not 'well built' and I do find them uncomfortable too, but, and it's a big BUT, as Mishandled has pointed out the seat pitch is market driven limited by the authority.

So for someone like JP5A (who I assume takes some kind of interest in matters 'flying' by his/her presence here) you know what you are getting when you go 'bargain bucket' on your holiday so why complain after the event? If it was a one off and you genuinely didn't realise the seat pitch well vote with your feet and spend twice as much for your scheduled airline ticket next time.

The fact is that this person has been given a 'compensatory' amount of money for 'discomfort' when the carrier and tour operator were operating within the guidlines set down by the regulatory authority. Do I take it that next time I get on the crew bus from the long stay car park and it's jam packed I can get some compensation (even though it was not my choice to have to use it!)? Or next time my wife commutes into London on the 7:52 to Vctoria she can make a claim for not getting a seat?

Joking aside this could seriously affect the market in these already troubled times, if carriers are forced to increase their seat pitches for the few who are prepared to pay more to the detriment of the vast majority who book package holidays and who are purely driven by cost which in many cases equates to affordability.


ps. what about a compensation claim for the F/O's seat; you know the one that every fleet has that you can never quite adjust the same as all the others!!!!

Pilot Pete
24th Jan 2002, 13:52

You replied as I was typing.

The case you descibe appears outrageous and could not be condoned by any airline, if true. Airlines have a duty of care whilst the passenger travels with them and refusing a basic necessity such as water would appear to breach that duty in my eyes. I can only imagine that this sort of thing is a reflection of the ever tightening grip that accountants are having on airline operations(much to the regret of crews who find that they have been put in a difficult position)


24th Jan 2002, 13:57
JMC must appeal this decision. A precedent has been set, and before you know where you are everyone will be in court claiming a £500 rebate on their hols!!! The whole economic viability of charter flying could be threatened- after all if a few rows have to be pulled to give everyone an extra couple of inches then BY/JMC/MON will no longer be able to cram 235 pax on a B757- mmm perhaps its not such a bad idea after all!. . .In recent years the most comfortable holiday flight I've had (i'm 6ft 2in)was on a BY standby a/c an Air Atlanta L1011-- fantastic, an entire row to ourselves- 2 adults + 2 small children and loads of leg room. <img src="smile.gif" border="0"> <img src="smile.gif" border="0"> <img src="smile.gif" border="0"> <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

We all make mistakes as the the Dalek said as he climbed off the dustbin!!

24th Jan 2002, 14:34
Well folks, like everything in lifeÖyou get what you pay for.

I did a little research; you may like the results.

Theory: I want to go on holiday to BGI with my girlfriend Travelling MAN to BGI staying in a 4T hotel in Crystal Cove for seven nights all-inclusive.

Choice # 1 Pay £2070 for an all expenses holiday to BGI for a week, for two. Departing MAN returning MAN

Choice # 2 Pay BA £1397.00 for flt only ticket (economy class and the flt leaves LGW so includes the internal flt) then pay for a week in the hotel plus food.. . . .Choice # 3 Pay BA £ 4853.80 for flt only ticket (World Traveller Plus, because I am demanding more legroom) then pay for a week in the hotel and food.

Choice # 4 Pay BA £11627.80 for flt only ticket (first class, because thatís how all humans should travel) then pay for the hotel and food.

Having flown BA economy and charter, I can confirm that they are both uncomfortable. Since I am paying, I choose to go charter, just like everyone else. But I understand that if I want affordable holidays then Iím going to have to compromise.

[ 25 January 2002: Message edited by: max_cont ]</p>

24th Jan 2002, 14:50
Of course you get what you pay for, but some of the numbers don't seem to add up.

If the tightest Economy pitch is 28" and the best 34", the difference is about 20% - ergo a 20% fare hike should leave revenue neutral.

In reality the punter is left with the option of paying 2 or 3 times more to get a bit of space.

Lou Scannon
24th Jan 2002, 14:51
Great news for us consumers. We can now buy the cheapest car on the market safe in the knowledge that a court will allow us damages if the seating is cramped and we feel uncomfortable.

Better still we can pick up that bargain suit in the sales and then sue for the fact it is three sizes too small.

JMC must appeal this decision, if only in the name of sanity.

24th Jan 2002, 14:59
Lou, very apt.. .I'm afraid the only group to benefit from this type of action (as always) are the bloody lawyers.

24th Jan 2002, 15:14
Pules1, charter airlines are not banks. Britannia accepts all foreign currency in note form only. If the poor chap only had a lose change in the currency in question, then yes Britannia would not accept that. Likewise I bet there arenít many shops in Sweden who accept foreign currency as part of their normal business practise.

Curious Pax
24th Jan 2002, 15:42
max_cont - I don't think the merits of different currencies was the issue; rather that on a long flight giving water to the SLF regularly reduces the risk of them pegging it before reaching their destination. No problem with airlines charging for everything else on board (assuming that this is reflected in the ticket price) but water should be free.

24th Jan 2002, 15:43
There are numerous sites which "claim" to know what the seat pitches are, one follows:

<a href="http://www.cheapflights.com/misc/legroom_report.html" target="_blank">http://www.cheapflights.com/misc/legroom_report.html</A>

What a pity more airlines did not follow the example of American, who increased economy from 31-32 to at least 34-35. I used them(767) to LAX last year, and had no problem. I am 6ft 2in.

24th Jan 2002, 15:53

I have no problem with the fact that they will only accept swedish or UK money for food or proprietory drinks. What I think is poor, and dangerous, is that this passenger could not get a drink of water for FREE. Many of these airlines have gone to the expense of showing videos which encourage passengers to reduce the risk of DVT by exercising. They should also make water freely available on all flights for the same reason.

24th Jan 2002, 15:58
Curious Pax, I take your point. Remind yourself how much a bottle of water costs, even the cheap ones. Then multiply by 235 (B757) so that every passenger can have one.

If the person in question WERE really frightened by DVT, surely he/she would have purchased one before the flight. In Egypt (and I know this first hand) you have to beat the water sellers off with a big stick.

Not withstanding any of the above, water is available to the passengers free of charge. BUT it comes from the galley potable water tank. (B757/B737-8) On the B767ís the passengers have access to the water fountains that are situated in the mid cabin. Again these are free of charge.

24th Jan 2002, 18:45
Mmme!. .Seem to remember that Mon used to fly their 757's in a 228 pax config. THEN a new kid on the block started up and put 235 pax in. This was then required by all the charterers so the extra seats were installed.. .Really this all comes down to a phrase I heard on watchdog.(From a tour operator not an Airline). .I think it went something like " Our discerning clients would rather have budget sensitive holidays than have an increase in seat leg room"

[ 24 January 2002: Message edited by: IcePack ]</p>

24th Jan 2002, 18:51
Unwell raptor

You make a very good point. Can someone with the relevant know how, calculate the extra costs for say a typical 757, one class going from 28 pitch to 32" pitch. Just to get an idea. At present, you either go economy, or else pay huge wadges extra for premium or business. So, what I want to know is this, would it add £500 extra to a £200 ticket, or would it add around 20%, £40. If this is the case, why do the airlines resist the idea so strongly?

Every time this issue is raised on this site, it seems impossible for any constructive ideas to appear. Typically it is just 'passenger hating' vitriol.

As regards the case, Thank god someone has had the balls to do this. If you are over six foot (or less) tall and fly on a charter flight it really is a living hell. Contrary to some of the nonsense posted above, people who go on package holidays are not all oiks and do not all pay 'bucket shop prices' either. Many locations worldwide are only served by charter flights. Often their is no choice at all.

For clarity, the case did not focus on adhering to safety regulations, but to the concept of comfort. Generally, if the seats on planes were not too close together, and too small, then the problem would not occur. The airlines only have themselves to blame in this respect. They know their seats are extremely uncomfortable.

Although boeing have no major influence (its the airlines decision), apparently, they always suggest an economy seat pitch of at least 32". Is this correct, or an urban myth?

24th Jan 2002, 19:18
Dr. John H. Scurr of JMC explains that in order to avoid DVT one must..

Purchase a pair of elastic compression stockings to wear for the duration of the flight. They promote the flow of blood through the legs, thereby reducing the risk of blood clots.

Wear loose, baggy clothing during the flight.

If you can take aspirin, have one tablet on the morning of travel. This reduces the stickiness of blood and decreases the risk of a clot developing. (Please ensure that you consult your doctor first). . .Drink plenty of water during the flight to dilute the risk of a blood clot. Too much alcohol tends to cause dehydration, which can increase the risk of clotting.

Doing a few simple exercises regularly from your seat during the flight helps to promote the flow of blood through the deep veins. (‘Work out’ in your seat with JMC Airlines exclusive Mr Motivator in-flight exercise routine or follow the simple exercise plan in the JMC ‘In the Air’ in-flight magazine).

. .With regard to the question, how much extra will it cost to increase a seat pitch to 32" from 28"?. .In order to work this one out you have 2 major variables.. .Aircraft type? - If you increase the pitch to 32" on 737 compared to a 767 you will obviously lose far more passengers per hull.. .What is the width of the seat? - For example a 757 operated by BA is 3+3 whereas a charter aircraft is 4+3.

If ALL charter companies have to increase their seat pitch to a more humane 32" than so be it. Why shouldn't the consumer pay a little bit more in order to avoid one of the major causes of DVT? Perhaps then the market will be a bit more transparent and comparable?

24th Jan 2002, 19:21
I think itís something to do with FREE MARKET FORCES. If you donít like the product, then donít buy it.

If you sell your car in Exchange and Mart, you sell to the highest bidder. Itís the same for seats. If you canít afford the BMW, you canít force the seller to reduce the price just because you think he should. Especially if he has someone who is willing to pay the asking price.

In the case of premium seats, that would be the companies who send their executives away on business. Again market forces will dictate the routes. If you donít like charter flights you can go by ship or drive to Cornwall.

Itís not about hating passengers, but about unrealistic expectations. I want cheap holidays, but I know Iím not going first class.

We sell a premium seat on longhaul flights. They are usually booked up, but when we ask the passenger who is complaining about the seats in economy, why he didnít book premium? The usual answer is that they didnít want to pay the extra £50.

Sorry but I have no sympathy for people like that.

White Knight
24th Jan 2002, 21:37
Well to all of you short arsed little gits who are complaining about the injustice of JMC having to fork out a measly £500... I'm 6'7", and I can tell you that any economy seat is generally a squeeze. I have stood for an entire BA LAX-LHR (except for the mandatory sitting bits) because even the "cost you more" scheduled flights have a joke of a seat pitch <img src="mad.gif" border="0"> <img src="mad.gif" border="0"> <img src="mad.gif" border="0"> .

It's about time we big blokes got something done. The CAA need to now realize that people are TALLER now than thirty years ago. Just because it's legally airworthy doesn't make it a good idea. Smoking is legal - but STUPID as is letting 18 year old boys get behind the wheel of a car !!!

There is also a SAFETY issue. The damned seats are often so tight that there is NO CHANCE WHATSOEVER of getting into the brace position in an emergency landing....... Think about that one little people !!

As someone pointed out, the possibility of flying club or first is prohibitive to most people, also some destinations are only charter served...

25th Jan 2002, 03:06
A retired police officer friend of mine went on holiday last year and noticed that where he was sitting the seat pitch was not enough to enable him to go into the crash position, ie head down between knees. Having noticed this he wrote to the CAA complaining that on the safety card instructions regarding emergency procedures it clearly said that near to time of impact to take the brace position. A diagram clearly showed that passengers were expected to put their hands on their heads and put their heads forward between their knees. A few months after he wrote his letter I did notice an article in Airliner World, I think, stating that the CAA had received such a complaint and were investigating.

25th Jan 2002, 03:12

Passenger gets compensation for cramped seat on plane

A businessman's victory after suffering from distress on an eight-hour flight could pave the way for millions of similar claims

LONDON - A court ruling awarding £500 compensation to an airline passenger for being cramped has opened the way for millions of other long-haul travellers to make similar claims.

Businessman Brian Horan, 56, was an economy-class passenger on an eight-hour flight from Britain to Canada.

He told a court in Macclesfield, Cheshire he had to tuck up his knees because the seat in front was too close.

Eating and reading was difficult and sleeping impossible.

He said he suffered distress and discomfort because of the cramped seating on the British Airtours Boeing 767 jet.

Mr Horan, managing director of a storage company, said he had severe pain in his legs because of the tight seating.

He had a medical check-up after landing but was not found to be suffering from deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), also known as economy-class syndrome.

Judge Andrew Wallace said on Wednesday: 'I am satisfied that Mr Horan suffered quite considerable discomfort as a result of the cramped conditions in the cabin.

'I accept there may well be considerable commercial ramifications following this case.'

The judgment and the award of compensation could lead to a flood of similar claims from other economy-class passengers, experts believe.

Dr Farrol Khan of the Aviation Health Institute said: 'The judge is right, there will be ramifications from this case.

'Hundreds of thousands of other passengers may make similar claims, or airlines will be forced to provide more space in economy class.'

The Air Passengers Group also charged that some airlines were cramming so many seats into the cheaper cabins, especially on long-haul flights, that economy class was being referred to as 'cattle class'.

Cramped conditions also increased the risk of DVT.

'If my win makes airlines provide more space for passengers, I will be very happy,' said Mr Horan.

'There are very few flights which have every seat in economy class booked, especially since the Sept 11 terrorist airline hijackings.

'It is time for airlines to remove a couple of rows, which would make all the difference.'

Hand Solo
25th Jan 2002, 03:37
I was wondering when Mr Farrol Khan of the so-called 'Aviation Health Institute' would show up. I seem to remember from previous threads that Mr Khan is in fact the only member of the Aviation Health Institute, and he holds no medical or scientific qualifications whatsoever. Furthermore I seem to remember a government research group dismissing his 'facts' as misleading, innaccurate and contrary to the conclusions of the original authors of much of his rehashed material. So an ideal choice for the media to interview then.

25th Jan 2002, 04:08
A couple of things:

The point that people are getting taller is bang on the money. The 'standard' UK bed increased in length, at some point between the 1960s and the 1990s, from 6 ft. 0 ins to 6 ft. 6 ins. I don't need to remind you of what happened to airline seat pitch during this period...

Channel 4 News reported this evening that seat pitch on this partcular JMC flight to Calgary had been 28 inches. I am 6'3" and have suffered 2.5 hour charter flights to and from the Med in similar seats. I wouldn't dream of attempting it long haul.

The comfort thing is a real issue. After Virgin reduced its economy class seat pitch from 34 to 31 inches I made a vow never to fly economy long-haul again. What this means is that I spend more time in Europe, use airmiles to upgrade to business when I travel longhaul, or, when I really have to, take the pain and shell out for business. Yes, I paid BA over £5,000 to take my girlfriend and I to BGI over New Year (should keep you Nigels in business for an extra 3 minutes or so!). Lucky me - I can afford to do that occasionally - most tall people cannot.

Essentially, I view the economy seat pitch as unfair to taller people. It's not my fault I'm tall - and I'm hardly a monster. Small people get to pay a few hundred quid to travel and can be reasonably comfortable; I need repeat visits to the chiropractor if I try the same trick. In essence, I am being blackmailed to travel further up the plane.

As for the economics, it can't be that disastrous if AA can run with a sensible (read: pre-1994) transatlantic seat. It's up to regulators to regulate the market to stop the inevitable squeezing of pitch downwards, and I hope they come up with a sensible number - and by that, I mean over 31 inches.

Tomb Raider
25th Jan 2002, 06:38
Firstly,Max_cont,. .Where on earth did you get your "choice 3"holiday of "world traveller plus" to BGI??. .BA do not, and have so far never offered WTP to BGI.Perhaps you invented these "holidays" to make your point!Fair enough.. .Secondly,all you legroom complainers(I'm crew by the way,and I'm all for loads of legroom as it would make my job much easier),are any of you prepared to pay the "extra" to allow for all this room?. .Market research has shown beyond doubt that the vast majority of punters are happy to bear discomfort if it will save a few quid on the price of their flt/hols.Until people are prepared to change their expectations about flying,things will stay as they are.. .Can somebody tell me another industry where the general public expect to get so much for so little??. .I'm off to buy a new car tomorrow...I've got enough for a brand new Fiat Punto,but I'm going to demand that the dealer sells me a brand new Merc for the same price.If I don't get what I want,I'm going to sue the ******,'cos at 6'4,there is no way that Punto is gonna be roomy enough for me.I shall report at how I far I get with my impending lawsuit!!

25th Jan 2002, 07:24
when BY were looking at seating and non-recline on some rows of a B757 I seem to remember we were given numbers a loss of 1m sterling in revenue per year per seat u take off.

therefore u take off one row and thats 6 seats so 6m per aircraft per year, with the current 18 B757's operated by BY that 108m in revenue per year.

now with a pax carrying of c8m (one way so 4m return) thats 27 sterling per pax carried. Oddly enough, most pax won't pay that much extra!

25th Jan 2002, 12:48
For all you folks complaining about seat pitch:

When you book your holiday, demand or query about the seat pitch. The greater the demand, the greater the chance of more flights with better seat pitch. But you must be prepared to pay more then, simple math,

less people on plane = each must pay more

(As in the example above)

I know there are differences between operators, so already now you have a choice. It my not be very transparent, but ask for it ! Pay more for it, and you'll get it !

When you sit with that shiny brochure and find a good travel bargain, you might not be thinking of seat pitch, but now is the time to start doing just that.

One of my friends is flying a 757 and it has been converted several times, each time to FEWER seats. I think it is around 180 seats now, and the rumour goes around pax that it has good seat pitch. People come back and recommend it to their friends !

[ 25 January 2002: Message edited by: TheDrop ]</p>

25th Jan 2002, 13:06

You say that most passengers won't pay £27 for extra legroom. The problem is that passengers are never offered such a simple choice. I imagine that, if they were, the majority would take it, especially on longer flights.

25th Jan 2002, 13:43
Tomb Raider, I went to BAís website. I typed in the departure and the destination and it came up with the rest. You can also select the class of seat. Wtp being one.

At no time did I say that BA offered this class. I was demonstrating the point, that if you want more you pay more.

You will also notice that I used the word THEORY at the beginning of the example.

Yesterday when I did this research, the site gave the figures posted. However today, the same site is now telling me that WTP is not available (as you have stated) on this route. The site will now only quote first class at around £11500. It would appear tweaking to this site is still ongoing.

25th Jan 2002, 14:44
I'm sorry guys the seat pitch that is offered in UK charter airlines is unacceptable but legal. The CAA issued a paper on it last year calling for more legroom and it has been buried on Stephen Byers desk. . .The facts are that as all the charter airlines are in competition they will all put 235 in a 757 until the law is changed.. .The average passenger size has increased during the last 30 years and it is about time the seat pitch reflected that.

Last year I returned to the UK on a Spotty M A300 and sat with my hips pinned to the rear of the seat, on tiptoes with my knees pressed up against the seat in front. That is unsafe, unacceptable and should be unlawful.

The companies should stop moaning and start selling an honest safe product. . .Good on the Judge and good on the guy that was prepared to take JMC to court.

[ 25 January 2002: Message edited by: sky9 ]</p>

25th Jan 2002, 15:07
I donít think you will get any objections from airlines, if they are ALL forced to provide more legroom.

I personally donít care if you fit a B767-300 with a 100-seat configuration.

The price of a seat WILL then rise. The only losers will be the majority of people who want to take a holiday and find that they can no longer afford it.

What the public really want is more room for free. They wonít be getting that. The economics donít allow it.

The passengers themselves will be the biggest loser in this.

White Knight
25th Jan 2002, 15:21
TR; obviously as a little person you don't really understand what it's all about. If I fly charter or economy, then I usually have to shoehorn myself in. It is NOT safe <img src="mad.gif" border="0"> <img src="mad.gif" border="0"> because a) brace position not possible and b) in the event of an accident I could well become wedged and as well as not getting myself out would also block other peoples exit. As a crew member you must surely see the issue here..... .Comparing the whole issue to Fiat puntos v Mercedes is just crass.............

25th Jan 2002, 15:23
If it is mandated/recommended by the CAA and all the charter airlines do it then us punters will have to accept the extra cost. Don't forget the airfare is only part of the cost of a holiday. What does an average UK family pay for a 2 week holiday in Spain - c£1000 all in? If so I don't believe they'd begrudge a few extra pounds for a bit more comfort.

25th Jan 2002, 15:28
Perhaps the Trading Standards or Advertising reulatory authorities should be more postive in allowing the passenger to have information in a simple format about seat pitch, possibly incororating a table of weight/height, to see if you can actually sit straight ahead with your back upright. There is a safety consideration here in the event of an incident.

Passengers could also be fully informed as to the catering arrangements and if a meal/drinks will be provided. If not take some sandwiches and a six-pack. Currency accepted by the airlies could also feature in the brochure.

You should then know exactly where you stand, or sit, and plan your holiday/ airline accordingly. When the "sardine" class airlines start losing out progress will be made.

MP <img src="rolleyes.gif" border="0">

Lou Scannon
25th Jan 2002, 15:34
max-cont summed up the situation perfectly. . .Assuming 233 seats are charged at £200 each, you would need to charge over £300 if the aircraft was in a 150 seat fit.

This would add £400 to the cost of a family holiday and make it impossible for many families to travel to the sun. Virtually every customer would opt for a cheaper deal. Any airline that initiated a price increase unilaterally would be out of business in weeks.

This case has achieved one thing for the industry: From now on there can be no excuse for anyone complaining about the threat of DVT, cramped legs, bruised knees or whatever. Every consumer now knows that charter flights are uncomfortable and, in some peoples views, dangerous to health. They also know that there is a "safe alternative" available to them at the time of purchase called Business or First class, albeit at up to 20 times the cost.

Perhaps the charters should place a notice in all their brochures stating the "dangers" and discomforts and quoting the costs of the available "safe" and comfortable alternatives.

25th Jan 2002, 16:46
Things may not have been helped by the Government. This text extracted from an article in the DTel, last May.

Charter airlines have threatened to reduce the numbers of "premium" seats on some long-haul flights following the doubling of Air Passenger Duty to £40.

Customs and Excise ruled that "premium" seats were to be taxed in the same way as business-class seats.

Britannia Airways was charging a supplement of between £60 and £95 return for the Extra seats, which had a 34in seat pitch. The standard seat pitch for charter flights is just 30in.

Britannia used to have 24 Extra seats on all long-haul flights, plus 24 more expensive Premium seats. They now have 31 Premium seats on their flights to medium- and long-haul destinations, such as Florida and the Caribbean, for a supplement of £120 to £195 return. Its Premium seats offer 35in leg-room, in addition to upgraded meals and complimentary alcoholic drinks.

Air 2000 said that it was not making any money on "premium" seats on some routes since the rise in Air Passenger Duty.

"On Cyprus, for example, the supplement for Classic Premium is just £49 and the Government is now taking £40 of that," said a spokeswoman. "We have thought about getting rid of Classic Premium on some routes, but we are going to stick with it for the time being."

Other charter airlines that are continuing to offer premium seats include Monarch Airlines and Airtours International.

25th Jan 2002, 17:13
Lou Scannon, youíre dead right. The most likely scenario is an amendment to the conditions of carriage. It will be along the lines that by purchasing this holiday you accept and understand that your comfort is not guaranteed during the flight. It will probably require that you waive your rights to seek compensation, in any form should this be the case. The alternative will be to arrange your own tickets. Iím sure some very high-powered (and expensive) legal minds will be appointed to draw up this disclaimer.

The rest of the public will choose their affordable holiday and relax.

25th Jan 2002, 20:28
White knight I couldn't agree more.

But since we have some real tosh being posted here comparing airline seats to buying cars etc.. let's take some of the nonsense to its logical conclusion, and see if the arguments stack up.

A good example is this, 'passengers want the cheapest flight possible, and yet want more comfortable seats for nothing extra'. Well let's just consider this, the CAA minimum seat pitch allowable is 26", so why is it that Britannia have around 28", monarch and airtours similarly. None of them use the legal mimimum seat pitch. If market conditions were genuinely being driven by the desire to keep costs (and fares) low, all budget and charter airlines would have the legal minimum seat pitch. Wouldn't they?

BUT THEY DON'T - why is that??

Similarly, the argument is put forward that if a given charter airline were to increase its seat pitch by say two inches (thereby increasing the cost of the flight), they would lose so much business, they would face financial ruin. If that is so, and the earlier argument is also correct, then clearly there is a killing to be made in the aviation industry. Someone please tell JMC, Brittania and airtours, that a lot of money can be made overnight by dropping the seat pitch from 28" to the legal minimum of 26".

Let's see who does it first. OR, is it due to the realisation that a seat pitch of 26" would be completely intolerable? From a logical point of view, doesn't that then make the use of the safety minimum (26"), irrelevant when discussing COMFORT.

Most of the so-called arguments put forward for not increasing seat pitch, are really not very sound at all. I think in this matter, there is an inherent element of not even considering the idea, as that is the way it always has been etc...

As regards this notion of choice, many charter flight do not have 'premium seats' available, and so anyone over about 5'9" inches or so can either sit in misery and real severe pain for eight hours or not travel abroad. From a personal perspective, if I cannot book extra leg room seats (for a fee), then I do not book the trip or holiday. And this has happened many times.

I've said it before, Joe punter generally has no idea what the flight comfort will be like when booking a trip. Check common holiday brochures, each one stresses how good and enjoyable the flight will be and not one says, if you are over 5'10" tall, the seats will be way too small and grossly uncomfortable, and you really must pay for an upgrade or do not travel.

The point is this, the passenger in this case, had no idea how truly teeny weeny the seats would be. He expected a degree of comfort (no doubt from the brochure). No one warned him otherwise.

Overall it's all very silly, why don't all airlines just agree on a standard minimum comfort seat pitch, and that would put an end to a lot of speculation and problems.

As regards the point made regarding an airline only making £9 on a £49 premium upgrade, anyone with a basic knowledge of airline economics knows a lot of the money on charters is made not from the seat price, but the extras, headsets, duty free (at seriously dodgy exchange rates), ice cream and drinks. Oh, and don't forget the scratchcards. They also make money from people like me who pay £40 extra to reserve wing exit seats (these seats would exist even if not charged for).

25th Jan 2002, 21:53
Flypastpastfast. You are correct in that it is a fine line between what the customers want and what they will accept. Airline X carried around 3 million passengers last year. (If my memory is correct) Questionnaires are distributed on all return sectors. They are asked to comment on all aspects of their holiday experience and flight. The vast majority of customers seem to be happy. If a customer complains, staff at Airline X encourages them to put it in writing and send it to the CEO.

Airline X has to my knowledge increased the seat pitch in itís fleet of longhaul aircraft. I donít know whether this was as a result of the questionnaires giving a less than acceptable score in relation to comfort.

I repeat. The vast majority of customers seem satisfied. If that is not the case, then it is up to Airline Xís customers to indicate this when given the opportunity to do so during the return flight.

Speaking from a personal point of view, I have had this discussion with passengers on quite a few long haul flights in the days prior to the seat pitch increase. I have not had any since.

26th Jan 2002, 01:48
Questions - If, as a result of this case, all charter carriers agreed today that an increase in seat pitch was required.... .<ul type="square">1. How long would this take to physically fit and feed through to the point of sale?. .2. If certain a/c types become uneconomic (757-200?) at increased pitch, how quickly could carriers re-equip?. .3. During a transitional period, would all passengers have a theoretical right to sue, pending the completion of the reconfig?. .4. Final question, and this must be the biggie - what is acceptable seat pitch - 30", 32" or 34" plus. A previous post mentions a pax of 6'7" -what seat pitch is appropriate, and if the seat pitch was increased to say 36", would not the carrier still be vulnerable to a lawsuit from a discomforted pax?. .[/list]

Percy De Havilland
26th Jan 2002, 01:55
As someone who's 6'6' well proportioned - I'd love to hear the justification for some of the American airlines that charge the earth for business travellers and then cram them in to seats that a dwarf would be uncomfortable in.

Now where's that lawyer's name.

26th Jan 2002, 02:47
Friends of mine, or office colleagues, that talk about going on charters always moan but I cannot see them paying more. If I mention paying extra (either mileage or cash) for Premium Economy/Club, they think that I am barmy to pay the extra. [I am ov average height and build]

The questions I should like to ask are these:

IT and charter operators in continental Europe - do they use the same pitch as the UK ones?

Do their customers pay, broadly, the same amount per Euro per seat mile?

Do our neighbours complain about seat pitch?

Is it just the Brits that have misunderstood the way packages are priced and sold?

Pilot Pete
26th Jan 2002, 05:22
pax boy

it seems to be an issue of cultures across the EU.

In jmc our 757-200's are configured to carry 235. Condor, our German 'sister' airline configure theirs to less(can't think off the top of my head what it is exactly) I think around 180.

It appears that the UK charter holiday maker is driven far more by cost of the product and is willing to shop around for the 'best' deal, be it saving only £10, whereas our German charter holiday makers seem more descerning and pay 2 to 3 times the price for their package to the same destination.

It is a cultural thing and while the vast majority are willing to pay less and accept the tight seats the only way it is going to change is if the authorities step in and increase the minimum above 28". This case may force the change, but as has already been pointed out an appeal may be successful and 'disclaimers' may be introduced.


26th Jan 2002, 13:56
Hey PP ,. .One other thing to consider with the Germans is the size of their Glutomus Maximus, far larger on average than your normal lard arse Brits.! and the fact that the Germans are far more driven by what their customers think of their service, we Brits are thought of purely as numbers, and most retail sellers be they Holiday company or super markets, couldn't care less about our custom.

However it would be intersting to see what the CAA think about the safety issue of seat pitches , compared with the lack of ability to take up the suggested "Crash Position".. . I am only 5'9" and have a pretty large frame(Rugby Size) so by modern day size's I am on the short side, but on some of the holidays that I have recently been on I have not been able to read the free paper's that have been given out, my sons are much taller than me, and after the last Holiday( that cost us £8500 for four) we have decided as a family that we are not going like that again, so if we cannot find a good seat pitch we will not travel, If all air travellers took that stance, we would soon see a change.


Pilot Pete
26th Jan 2002, 15:49

points noted about the differences between Brits and Germans, the 'cultural' differences are reflected in what the airlines provide, ie they customer gets what he wants; in Germany the customer is willing to pay more for a service that he wants and will probably be more critical of so the airline provides the seat pitch which provides for him, similarly, the UK customer, as I have said seems in general to be solely driven by cost, hence the situation we find ourselves in. Unfortunately the airlines cannot take a lead individually by increasing seat pitch because the core customer will desert them in favour of the 'cheaper' competition.

Hence my stance that the authorities are the ones who need to force change on all of us if they deem the seat pitch too restrictive, or, alternatively the average Brit needs to follow your lead and always opt for a larger seat pitch and be willing to pay for it, which needs a cultural change.


26th Jan 2002, 15:58
There is only one thing worse than watching the British go on a package holiday - it's watching them return???? . . <img src="cool.gif" border="0"> <img src="eek.gif" border="0"> <img src="tongue.gif" border="0">

26th Jan 2002, 16:58
Seat pitch also seems to vary between fleet/sectors. Recent trip in BA economy JED/LHR in a 777 the seats were very roomy, the aircraft though appears to normaly operates on the longer Far Eastern sectors. A LHR/NBO in a 744 was much more uncomfortable with a tighter seat pitch despite the longer sector. Air Tours to Miami in the DC10 was very tight, the same sector in the 330 seemed better. AA Lon Dallas was bearable, Delta seemed much tighter. Virgin OK. An agonising trip with AF on a 74 in economy has resulted in avoiding travelling with that airline ever again. GO, Excaliber, Buzz, Crossair have all been sampled and tight but bearable is the comment. Saudia and Swissair stood out as comfortable. These comments have all applied to the economy sections. . . The problem is not a simple one and at the end of the day the pitch seat design sector length passenger size and shape and his or her general mood all contribute greatly to the problem of comfort. It is hardly ever going to be possible to completely satisfy all the generaly conflicting requirements of passenger and airline. . . As long as an industry minimum is adhered to, that has been arrived at by some eqitable process, it would however seem dangerous to risk opening the floodgates to an ever increasingly litigious society

26th Jan 2002, 17:05
I have read this thread with interest and can't understand one thing, namely what choice when booking a package holiday do the passengers get in selection of airline. This is decided by the tour operator. I have recently booked a cruise in the Carribean with P&O and I had no choice as to the airline that will fly me out to Barbados. The airline will be Britannia. I tried to book the Premium seats but was told that seat allocation will be done at the airport at check in. Once again no choice there. I have been in this business for a great deal of time and its about time it woke up to the fact that it is carrying people not freight and people require comfort and service. I am sure that despite airlines quoting market research (has anyone seen this research)that people will pay a little extra for a comfortable journey especially on long haul. Incidently I used to work for Britannia and I dont have an axe to grind against them. I have always thought that the seats were too narrow and not enough legroom. . .As to the analogy with car purchasing that is a complete red herring and bears no relevance to reality. . .I am delighted that the Passenger who sued JMC won his case maybe now all the long suffering passengers will get more leg room, especially on long haul, even if it comes at a higher cost. . .The bean counters will be the ruination of this industry if we are not careful.

26th Jan 2002, 18:46
Rover 2701

I don't think that there will be any premium seats on the Britannia P&O charter to Barbados; and when there are, they are not charged for. However if you email [email protected] and ask her for extra legroom (emergency exit) you might just get it. But don't tell her I told you. <img src="wink.gif" border="0"> <img src="wink.gif" border="0">

26th Jan 2002, 21:32
Rover 2701, there is no difference between purchasing a holiday or a car or anything else.

The seller will have a price for what is on offer. The buyer will decide if they are willing to pay. You can demand all the legroom you like, but be prepared to pay more. I cannot go to BMW and demand a 330ci for the price of a 318. If I want more, I pay more, period. Itís no good me complaining that I am uncomfortable in the 318 and therefore, BMW has a duty to give me the 330ci. Life isnít that wonderful.

You say you worked for Brits. What was the seating configuration when you flew on the 767ís? The reason I ask is because you may find things have changed since then.

neil armstrong
26th Jan 2002, 21:59
These day's i only fly AA ,because they provide the most leg room overall.. .I positioned home on Ryanair a couple of weeks ago and there was no way to fit between the seats.. .Some airlines are taking the Pi**.. .I'm willing to pay more as long as i get good service and more room.


26th Jan 2002, 22:25
max_cont. .The difference between an airline seat and any other consumer commodity is one of disclosure.

Frequent (informed) flyers know about seat pitch differences, will seek out this information, and then make a choice. The typical charter pax can not find this information, even if they knew enough to ask. Most airlines don't disclose it, nor do the travel agents/package operators who sell to Gen. Public. And to the majority of them the term '28 inch pitch' would be absolutely meaningless anyway.

This case was about whether consumers, sight unseen and despite their ignorance are reasonably entitled to expect a certain level of comfort and a minimum health risk. The judge apparently thought so, a decision with which I agree. . .Would you buy a car without being able to look at it, sit in it etc. ?

I doubt any UK charter airline is going to take the lead and unilaterally increase pitch, for the economic reasons already cited. UA and AA did, but at a time when loads were already declining so the effect on revenue was minimal. TW tried it in the boom times and it was a complete failure. They put the seats back in.

Much as I dislike regulation, I think this is the only way anything will change - by CAA edict. And the evacuation requirement is a red herring, apart from being ridiculously optimistic. Does anybody really think you could empty a typical charter load - kids, grannies, drunken brickies etc. - in anything like 90 seconds ? <img src="frown.gif" border="0">

And BTW, an 8-hour transatlantic flight is long-haul in my book.

[ 26 January 2002: Message edited by: PaperTiger ]</p>

26th Jan 2002, 23:27
Paper Tiger, I take your point about alleged ignorance within the general public regarding aircraft seat pitch. I should point out, that comfort levels on charter airlines have long been the subject of debate among the media and watchdog type programs in the UK. To plead ignorance, youíd have had to be living in Outer Mongolia with your head stuck up a Yak.

I would not buy anything unless I knew what I was getting. A holiday can and does cost several thousand pounds (just like a car) and I always make sure I know exactly what Iím getting.

I have friends with whom I go on vacation sometimes. They always go first class or similar with a schedule airline, simply because they refuse to travel in steerage. Nothing stops anyone from booking the resort and then sorting out the flights. (Apart from the price of course) Me, I just jump on a charter flight for a fraction of the cost a sit with my knees up around my ears. The truth is, like the rest of the British holidaymakers, Iím too lazy to do the work.

Airlines have a surprising amount on influence over the CAA in my opinion. You are probably aware of the magical and seemingly automated ďdispensationĒ agreement that most companies have regarding any rule they happen to find inconvenient. Iím sure any increased seat pitch regulation would be treated to a dispensation.

I agree that 90 seconds for a full evacuation is not enough in the real World. That it is demonstrated using only half the available exits is true, but the passengers are all ABPís and they know whatís coming. When you watch the video, it reminds me of a military para drop. The cabin crew would make great loadmasters.

26th Jan 2002, 23:55
&gt; You say that most passengers won't pay £27 for. .&gt; extra legroom. The problem is that passengers. .&gt; are never offered such a simple choice. I. .&gt; imagine that, if they were, the majority would. .&gt; take it, especially on longer flights.

Spot on Pulse1.

I refuse to pay an order of magnitude more for buisness class but would gladly pay 10-20% more for 10-20% more seat pitch... and I'm only average height.

27th Jan 2002, 03:35
I am someone who spends a long time sitting behind most of you guys (on trips to the US, Canada, Europe) - at least until I get this PPL finished anyway.

. .My company pays for most of my tickets (roughly 25 trips a year before 11/9). They point-blank refuse to pay any extra, even if it means that we are in a mess on arrival.

Example 1: trip to the USA. My boss at the time (around 6'4" - 6'6") spent 11 hours to SFO in economy and needed visits to a chiropractor while abroad. Company wouldn't pay for an upgrade to business for the home leg and he couldn't afford the huge price either.

Example 2: visit to PHX next month. We having to fly LGW-PHX on BA because it is cheaper. Not LHR-SFO-PHX on United (look at my profile and deduce the logic in that). This is despite the fact that United has more legroom than BA - I have spent similar trips with my legs twisted sideways because I couldn't get them straight in front of me - and it'll cost more that the UA / BA difference in taxi fares!

Incidentally, most companies in the electronics industry have a policy of "cheapest possible economy only".

When I'm paying to travel, it's different. I insisted that my wife & I flew to YYZ on AC rather than BA because I'd done the trip before with both and could still walk after getting off of the AC 747. It cost a bit more, but that's what we all have to do.

. .What has to happen is that everyone has to be forced to change together: more legroom, more cost. My company would rather pay doctors' bills while it has the choice - with no choice, it'll pay for our comfort and safety.

The same goes for all the PAX.

27th Jan 2002, 14:34
The solution is very simple. Regulatory bodies must impose an industry minimum, for instance 32" short & medium haul and 34" long haul (determined on a block time exceeding 4.5 hours). This way competition will not be determined by how many sardines you can pack in a tin!

Those of you comparing purchasing airline seats with cars are way off beam. You can go and take a look at the car in the show room before making a decision to purchase. Now, if you book a holiday through a travel agent you can't exactly ask to go and have a look around the aircraft they intend to put you on - if it's not subtituted on the day anyway!

Being an experienced air traveller I might know what to expect (which is why I haven't flown charter since the eighties), but most punters don't.

27th Jan 2002, 15:21
Today's Sunday Times announces the start of a campaign to improve seat pitches - let's hope it's the beginning of a bandwaggon!

27th Jan 2002, 15:55
As someone has already said, it needs the industry itself to set uniform minimum seat pitches 32" for short haul over 1 hour and 34" for anything over 4 hours. That way everyone can still compete on a level playing field. This really isn't rocket science, and would make flying enjoyable again.

I really do wonder about the safety of small seat pitches and the inability of passengers to adopt a recommended crash position.

One day the sh*t will hit the fan, and the lawyers will be suing for a long long time. Their has already been at least one study I know of, showing a significant percentage of passengers in economy would in the event of an emergency, be unable to take up the crash position.

It always makes me chuckle when on a charter flight they announce, "passenger safety is our main concern"... yeah, sure it is.

27th Jan 2002, 16:04
Nothing less than 34" should be acceptable in any cabin are of any ac on any sector. Period.

Prices might go up? Undoubtedly - but it's a price worth paying. But comfort and safety would also go up - perhaps air rage stems not so much from banning smoking and too much booze, but primarily from irritation and anger at spending too long in cramped and uncomfortable seating.

27th Jan 2002, 17:19
Max_Cont. .The point has already been made about the difference when buying a car and Purchasing a seat on a charter flight. A car you can try. Nothing to do with the difference between similar cars and so called extras. Its a case of what you can try before you buy, and I cant try out the aircraft I am going on holiday in. . .As for when I worked for Brits it was in the 80s. I left about a year after the first B767 came into service. Prior to that I worked for Laker and I can tell you the seats on Lakers aircraft were not as tight as Brits. After I left Brits I worked in Customer support for British Aerospace on the 146/RJ, and yes I was spoilt. I travelled most places longhaul in Business class. However it doesnt detract from the arguement that airlines have a duty to their customers, who have no choice in the airline that carries them on holiday, to give them a half comfortable flight not one they dread.. . <img src="frown.gif" border="0"> <img src="frown.gif" border="0"> <img src="frown.gif" border="0"> <img src="frown.gif" border="0">

Lou Scannon
27th Jan 2002, 18:14
Interesting that the "Sunday Times" is launching a campaign to increase the leg room with airlines.

Perhaps airlines should launch a campaign to increase accurate reporting on newspapers. Most of them seem to have the equivalent of 18 inches in seat pitch/integrity.

27th Jan 2002, 18:17
Unfortunatly it would not work to have a so called "level" playing field......

If the UK CAA (or JAA) stated minimum seat pitch then the airlines would have to put up the prices, as discussed eariler in this thread. Unfortunaty the FAA and other countries will not be bound by these measured heance will charge less and as already mentioned people want a cheap flight so all the business will go stateside.

What is needed is some sort of ICAO directive, but since i did Air Law several years ago iīll leave that debate to someone else <img src="wink.gif" border="0">

Land After
28th Jan 2002, 03:04
34” seat pitch is one thing. What about width? Having returned from a ski trip (charter) I thought things were a little tighter on the Britannia 767. Flying with BA the next week I found out why: 2-4-2 vs 2-3-2. If there’s legislation to fix minimum pitch, we also need to look at width!

28th Jan 2002, 13:53
Rover 2701,thatís the point. Everybody DOES know that itís going to be a tight squeeze on a charter flight. It has been for years. They keep on booking. The bottom line is that it is the cost of the holiday that will decide if a customer travels or not.

As I said earlier, we can ALL travel schedule airline, if we really want comfort.

Someone pointed out that some destinations are not served by a direct flight; well you have to get a connecting flight, most inconvenient. Thatís the advantage of the package holiday. Convenience and price is the reason package holidayís sell.

Clipstone posted the conclusions to some research that was carried out by the company that we both work for. It is genuine information.

I do believe that packing passengers in like sardines, isnít safe. I took the opportunity to look at the safety briefing yesterday and we show the brace position to be; arms over your head, with your head on your lap OR the back of the seat in front. The CAA has approved this, I wonít comment. I will comment on the safety issue of passengers who stuff bags weighing 10 kg or more, in the overhead bins. These bins are not very strong and in an incident, a collapsing overhead bin would be certain. We even had one chap stow his chainsaw, still full of petrol!!! I personally had an incident of a gallon of white vinegar leaking into the wiring from the overhead bins. We get passengers who insist that they do not need to sit down in turbulence. They are willing to take the risk. Itís just hard luck for the poor devil that they get thrown onto as they stagger down the isle. The point is, that the safety concerns cited, is in my opinion more to do with the lawyers convenience in the court, rather than any real concern on the part of the plaintiff. (Or a significant number of passengers)

I hope all airlines are forced to provide very comfortable seats. It will help curb ďair rageĒ incidents and because the price of a holiday will increase, the ďriff raffĒ elements will be less likely to be able to save enough DHSS handouts to go for a p**s -up in ďIbeefaĒ.

[ 28 January 2002: Message edited by: max_cont ]</p>

28th Jan 2002, 14:28
Sunday Times relevant page:

You will need to register.. .<a href="http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/section/0,,9012,00.html" target="_blank">http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/section/0,,9012,00.html</a>

28th Jan 2002, 20:47
I wish the Sunday Times success on this campaign. Pretty interesting info on seat pitches, surely it isn't 30" on Virgin - is it?? If it is,then it is truly appalling.

28th Jan 2002, 22:41
For once we in HMFC are actually providing a better service to our passengers than you chums in the commercial world, 't would seem. For the seat pitches on our dear ancient Vickers Funbus are as follows:

VC10C1K (RAF 'Standard VC10' from Day 1) : Minimum of 34" - years ago in max pax fit it was as low as 33", but we'd never stoop that low nowadays!!

VC10K4 (Ex-BA Super VC10): Fixed at 36"

VC10K3 (Ex-EAAC Super VC10): Depends upon configuration, but no worse than the other 2 variants!

How on Earth the commercial operators can expect people to tolerate sub-30" seating pitch is a mystery to me. No wonder they get 'air rage' on board.... Interesting to note, according to the press, Virgin Atlantic only offers seating at 31" pitch in Economy on the NA route.......

29th Jan 2002, 00:08
I've already posted this 'point of view' on my company forum, but just wanted to relay my fears.

IF charter airlines are forced to make these changes in seat pitch I can only assume that some of us will no longer be in Airline employmemt within the next few years.

The Trade has today warned that an increase in seat pitch within the UK charter airlines will cost them approximately £45 million this Summer season alone.

It has been suggested that 2 rows are removed from each Aircraft. For 1 B757 this means the removal of 12 seats. Each charter B757 should fly approximately 16 rotations per week for 26 weeks of a Summer season. Multiply this by an average seat price of £140 per seat equates to a loss in revenue of £700,000 PER aircraft for a the summer alone. This loss will damage Airlines and force them to increase their seat rates for next year.

If the market cannot / will not accept these increases the airlines will not be able justify operating flights, not operating flights reduces the need for aircraft, the rest is inevitable.

Just thought I'd add my point of view.

p.s. If you increase seat pitch in a B757 to greater than 34" you cant reach the drop down table in front of you to have your meal!!! Now that would cause a storm!

29th Jan 2002, 02:33
Rentaghost. .Who are you trying to frighten?. .12 seats out of 235 is a 5% increase in the cost of a ticket: or about £7 on a PMI.

If the equation is that good add another 12 seats and improve the profitability by £45.

29th Jan 2002, 06:23

You claim that you "had no choice" in the airline that will fly you to Barbados for your cruise.

This is simply nonsense: if you don't wan't to fly with Brittania, then book a different cruise! Or ask P&O about "cruise only" prices and book your own flight.

Now, this might feel harsh, and I don't mean it personally, but it seems to me that it is becomming endemic that the public wants various attributes of packages (e.g price), but not others, and demands that they get what they want.

And that's not fair or reasonable. If you decide that Brit's legroom will be inadequate, tell P&O that if they want your business, they'd better provide more legroom.

And presto, in time, they will... if enough people join you. If they don't, well, it's a democracy, isn't it?

29th Jan 2002, 13:56
Yes, and we could all charter Concorde too! (except they don't do charters anymore)

People are highlighting the lack of choice for a particular holiday, you just cannot book a thompson holiday and then decide you don't want the flight and will book your own. Not just for financial reasons, but also because of logistics, the brittannia flight arrives, pax are taken to ship and it then sails. The tour rep does not wait at the airport for the 'difficult' passenger who wants to travel on a different airline.

When you book a package holiday the flight comes with it - it is a 'package'. The average punter would not know how to change that.

[ 29 January 2002: Message edited by: flypastpastfast ]</p>

29th Jan 2002, 14:01
Does anyone have more info on the CAA report from last year suggesting that minimum seat pitch should be increased from 26" to 29.4" FOR SAFETY REASONS?

29th Jan 2002, 15:17
FPF Try the CAA website and search seatpitch which will give you a FAQ.. .Suggest that you write to your MP or to Stephen Byers and ask for a copy. I suspect that the information will only be available after he has made a decision.

30th Jan 2002, 01:44
Just a couple of points having waded through the entire thread.

1) The London Metro paper showed the pitch complained of to be significantly less than a London Bus or several species of commuter train.. .2)All the figures on revenue seem to assume that all the flights operate at 100% load factors. Those six removed seats are only a loss if you could have filled them.

I could also point out that the unnacceptable pitch is the same whether you pay the full rack rate in peak or go as a bum on seat an midnight 30 in November.

The fact is that the realationship between price, revenue and profit is a complex one. One part of that is a psychological campaign by the holiday companies to persuade the public that change such as this justifies higher prices

30th Jan 2002, 05:04
Reality check guys !!!!!!!!.Airlines offer a service. If they subject their customers to life threatening situations they are responsible...there is mounting evidence that DVT is more prevalent than than once was thought. So do something or pay for the consequences . Nothing to do with you sharp end people but never the less true .. ."Discomfort".....well that's us SLF .....all complaints.....if you're 6 foot and monied you go to the Small Claims Court ........if your 70 and poor o 30 with two young children .........tought **** !!!!!!!

Get real !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peter J

30th Jan 2002, 10:36
Both sides have a valid point - if you pay cheap expect to get cramped [email protected] seats. I have serious safety concerns about any flight with 26" pitch but that aside it seems real simple to me. Pull a few seats, raise rates to compensate and if the punters do not want to spend a few more dollars or pounds or euros - leave them at home - the world is probably better off without their influence anyway.

Airlines have to wake up to the fact that they are providing a service - and like any service it must have minimum standards or the customers will walk or sue or do something else stupid.

To all who advocate minimal fares so we can have an affordable holiday - where do you draw the line - 26" pitch, cut corners on aircraft maintenance, low pay for pilots, low time pilots??? In this world you get what you pay for and it is time everyone understood that paying a little more is not necessarily bad.

30th Jan 2002, 11:14
When the majority of the public book a holiday, they cannot have any control over how they sit on any aircraft involved, they may feel that they can have more room by" booking in advance" but in reality this is yet another con to prise money from their pockets,the airlines that serve most Holiday company's have a tie up or own the aircraft company, it is in their operating/Profit interest to cram as many people into their A/c as possible, they seem not to care that any of us SLF have DVT or cannot get out quick enough in case of a fire,or are just uncomfortable or some other such incident, they the operators are there and exist to generate PROFIT, it will carry on in the same manner until the Holiday buying public force a change by booking with the company's that CARE, and really want your business! And as for all the people who are defending the Holiday/charter company's, well why are they, they must earn their crust from them!

Look further for your hols, bigger seat pitch , or no fly!!

fen boy
30th Jan 2002, 13:11
If you want to see the CAA research you can download the whole document at <a href="http://www.ice.co.uk" target="_blank">www.ice.co.uk</a> - the company that undertook the work. Although the CAA paid for it they did so on behalf of the JAA - who the report has gone to. The UK is one of the very few countries with a minimum spacing - the idea is that if the UK can persuade the JAA to impliment it then it would benefit a lot more pax.

If you don't want to download the whole doc then there is a press notice summary on the CAA site.

30th Jan 2002, 13:31
Hey Fenboy. .It's 156 pages long and took me 30 secs on broadband!! If your not, I suggest that you do it overnight. Well done for finding it.

30th Jan 2002, 14:16
This from the latest Sunday Times....

"...AND WHAT are the airlines doing? Many are employing spin doctors and PR consultants to convince us that we've never had it so good, and that giving us more legroom will cause fares to rocket. And they might have got away with it, had it not been for one carrier that broke ranks.. .Two years ago, American Airlines decided to give its economy passengers more legroom. In a highly publicised £44m campaign, it reconfigured its entire fleet by taking out several rows of seats from each aircraft, thus increasing seat pitch in economy to 34in-36in. It did this without increasing fares, gambling on the fact that travellers would choose to fly on American because it treated them with more respect. The gamble paid off..."

Wot No Engines
31st Jan 2002, 00:39
I guess one of the reasons none of the charter lines have dropped to a 26" pitch is that they would never get the plane loaded as anyone of over 5'10" would not be able to sit down.

31st Jan 2002, 01:26
Who has a problem with economy class syndrome? Everybody! Luckily everwhere there are places where group therapy sessions are available: It's called a Pub.

31st Jan 2002, 04:03

While AA is indeed my preferred choice in airlines, I'd remind you that TWA did precisely the same thing a number of years earlier, and no economic benefits resulted.

The Sunday Times alleges that "the gamble paid off", but the gamble wasn't quite as simple as that rag alleges.

What the paper fails to mention is that AA was, and is, engaged in a refleeting exercise that includes deploying a large fleet of 737-800's and 777-200s, which typically provide more capacity per hull than the types they are replacing. So, rather than flying this new capacity empty while the economy staggers a bit (which was happening prior to 9/11, etc.), they reduce capacity via this campaign.

Sadly, I suspect it won't last forever, but in the meantime, it's a win/win solution!


31st Jan 2002, 06:02
I still say that the average punter if he wants his annual holiday, irrespective of cost, does not get a fair deal. If I want to go on my cruise I have no choice in the airline I fly with. I flew BWIA to the Barbados a couple of years ago and that was no better than most charters. Why should I pay extra to fly schedule when it is no better. I will pay extra for more leg room if it is available. All airlines should take note. At least give it a go.

Paraffin Budgie
31st Jan 2002, 10:53
I'm 6'5" tall, and as a fairly frequent flyer out of the Middle East, I always ask for a seat beside the emergency exit. I have even tried to reserve that type of seat when booking.

Despite checking in very early, I never get one because they seem to be reserved for full fare paying passengers.

It would help us more generously proportioned humans if the seats with more legroom on every type of aircraft could be reserved for the taller passengers-assuming that they meet the requirements for physical fitness that I believe are relevant.

31st Jan 2002, 17:42
I have now read the CAA/JAA ergonomics report into safe seat sizes, and am pretty shocked. Not purely in terms of the fact that the current minimum seat spacing and seat requirements are wholly inadequate, but also in relation to the brace position.

. .In almost all measurements, current practice in economy is completely inadequate.

. .Since this report relates purely to safety, the implication is that the current practices are in most cases unsafe.

On page 42 (for those interested), it is quite clearly demonstrated that a lot of passengers would be unable to correctly adopt the CAA required emergency 'brace' position, even with a seat pitch of 30", never mind 28". Is this explained in the pre-flight briefing?

I am no lawyer, but surely this type of information must be dynamite in litigation, and may even be of relevance in DVT cases. Will the airlines bury their heads in the sand until the sh*t hits the fan? Probably.

Time for the airlines to wake up, I think.

31st Jan 2002, 17:45
I have now read the CAA/JAA ergonomics report into safe seat sizes, and am pretty shocked. Not purely in terms of the fact that the current minimum seat spacing and seat requirements are wholly inadequate, but also in relation to the brace position.

. .In almost all measurements, current practice in economy is completely inadequate.

. .Since this report relates purely to safety, the implication is that the current practices are in most cases unsafe.

On page 42 (for those interested), it is quite clearly demonstrated that a lot of passengers would be unable to correctly adopt the CAA required emergency 'brace' position, even with a seat pitch of 30", never mind 28". Is this explained in the pre-flight briefing?

I am no lawyer, but surely this type of information must be dynamite in litigation, and may even be of relevance in DVT cases. Will the airlines bury their heads in the sand until the sh*t hits the fan? Probably.

Time for the airlines to wake up, I think.

Mark Hodson
31st Jan 2002, 22:42
Good evening. This is my first post.

I'm a journalist (boo! hiss!) with the Sunday Times and I'm working on our campaign to improve passenger conditions on commercial aircraft. We want two things: an increase in passenger space - Dimension A as laid out in the CAA's AN64 - from the current 26in to 30in, roughly equating to a seat pitch of 32in; and a law requiring companies advertising flights to state in their ads the minimum seat pitch passengers will "enjoy".

It looks to me like flypastpastfast has hit the nail on the head. The ICE report is well worth reading - it's alarming stuff, and it forms the basis of our campaign. Current flying conditions may be uncomfortable; they may be unhealthy; but they certainly appear to be unsafe. Among the report's findings is the fact that the current minimum of 26in will only accommodate 77% of the European population. And, as you know, charter carriers on short-haul routes are all flying with that 26in minimum.

The reason this report didn't make headlines was down to the date of its publication - just a few days after Sept 11. Not only did it get "buried" in the news agenda, it may be that it contained a message that nobody wanted to hear - that the existing situation is untenable.

As you may know, the report was commissioned by the CAA on behalf of the JAA, which is now "considering" it. The JAA itself is due to be replaced by EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, though this won't happen for at least three years and EASA won't turn its attention to operational matters until some time after that. How convenient - some borrowed time for the industry.

But it is borrowed time. Change appears to be on the cards. As you may know, a firm of solicitors today won an application in the High Court to bring a group litigation order - a class action - against a number of airlines. The firm now has 284 clients, a number that is rising daily. Public feeling is strong: we have already had 2,500 letters and emails of support from readers (including some from pilots).

I know many here are hostile to journalists, but please take the time to read what we're doing. I know a lot of bollox is written about aviation in the papers. Personally, I try to get all facts right, and that is made easier if the experts talk to the press. So, if you think there's something I should know, please email me ([email protected]).

Or, if you like, you add your name to the campaign ([email protected]).

All the best.

31st Jan 2002, 23:29
Don't worry: before long we'll have a bevy of legal sharks at airport exits offering "No win - No fee" action against the airline you've travelled with for any discomfort due to low seat pitch.... AeRoFot

31st Jan 2002, 23:36
Mark Hodson,. .You say…`I know a lot of bollox is written about aviation in the papers’... and you’ve just written some !..... .You say previous ...`as you know, charter carriers on short-haul routes are all flying with that 26in minimum.. .26 inch ! None that I know, 28 inch maybe but 26, I think not. . .26 inch is the minimum AWN64 will allow and I’d be very interested to know which carriers are at 26..... .Need to get your facts right on this one matey..... .Who’s going to pick-up the tab for operating the a/c with less seats then? Fare paying punter?

. . <img src="mad.gif" border="0"> <img src="mad.gif" border="0"> <img src="mad.gif" border="0">

David Hurst
1st Feb 2002, 00:07
It is interesting to place Hodson's campaign with the DVT concerns and the Ryanair 'You don't pay enough to have a complaint'. What it adds up to is the beginning of a recognition that you get what you pay for. There are definitely people who will pay more (of their own money) for quality but they are in the minority at the moment. When I go into a travel agent I ask about seat pitch because it is important to me but I doubt many others do.. .Flying in economy is not fun. It is uncomfortable and probably, to a certain extent, dangerous. More power to the Sunday Times' elbow but the only thing that will really change things is a CAA directive.

1st Feb 2002, 00:45
I haven't gone through every message, but it seems the arguement is, you get what you pay for. I usually agree with this 100% but recently I flew with BA (who I like a lot) in Business class and the stewardess had to ask the passenger in front, who had reclined her chair, to sit up until I had my breakfast (which I found out was inedible). Later I had trouble reading my paper. In addition, on this particular European route they have been serving the same food for the last 18-24 months - if it has changed, I certainly can't tell the difference. This is not a dig at BA as I believe they are all about the same.

I think the large scheduled airlines who are having their legs cut off by the Budget outfits might have themselves to blame. I now question Business fares as the food is awful and the seat pitch is poor - indeed, I think the food quality and personal space is less than you got in Economy 10 years ago - therefore, why pay more than Budget economy for short flights. I would pay the Business Class fares if I could see much of a difference.

1st Feb 2002, 01:06

I'm afraid you're wrong. American announced their More Room project in February 2000 (presumably after the bean counters had given it MUCH thought!). At the time the industry was at it's height and even the pre-911 down turn not anticipated.. .I read somewhere that their expectation was that other US carriers would follow suit but then things did start to take a turn for the worse and no one did. Let's hope they stick to their guns at AA.....

E cam
1st Feb 2002, 01:07
Mark Hodson : Please don't ignore the simple economics of what you are advocating i.e., a 757 carying 235 pax @ 28" will lose 5 rows if changed to 32". It will carry 30 less pax and direct operating costs will be 15% higher per pax. The only savings will be about £15/pax on airport charges and catering.

Good luck with your campagn and thanks for talking to us

Mark Hodson
1st Feb 2002, 01:52
Firstly, we haven't ignored the economics. BATA reckons on about a 10% increase in costs for an extra 2 inches on short-haul charter flights. I believe most people will be happy to pay that, and the response from our readers supports that view. And anyway, safety overrides cost considerations. There are probably people out there who would fly at any price in unsafe aircraft with inexperienced flight crew, but we wouldn't want them to, and we wouldn't let them.

I must reply to "PFR" who accuses me of writing bollox. I'm afraid you've got yourself confused between two types of measurement (it's a common mistake). Seat pitch is a term coined by engineers - it means the distance between seats and is measured from one fixed point on a seat to the SAME fixed point on a seat in front. The CAA does not measure seat pitch - it measures the distance "between the back support cushion of a seat and the back of the seat or structure in front" (I'm quoting directly from its website). Read AN64 or the pdf version of the ICE report and you'll see the diagrams, which make it easier.

Therefore, the difference between seat pitch and the CAA's measurement is the thickness of a seat. Assuming some seats are as thin as 2in, that means a charter carrier advertising a short-haul seat pitch of 28in (and they all do) is in fact providing just 26in of actual passenger space, which is the current legal minimum. Sorry to be a smartarse, but it's a vital distinction. Vital because any increase in the legal minimum will mean charters ripping up seats and reconfiguring.

By the way, have you seen this?

<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_1794000/1794330.stm" target="_blank">http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_1794000/1794330.stm</a>


1st Feb 2002, 03:12
Mark,. .Can I firstly say thank you for introducing yourself. PPRunerís take a dim view of undercover reporters.. .Secondly can I draw you attention the little box that allows you to introduce yourself as "just another number" a small payment allows you to have an introduction say for instance " "Sunday Times reporter" which then will continue to identify yourself on the site. and also puts a small amount in Danny's pocket for running expenses. (Rupert no doubt would find it "allowable"). .Thirdly good luck; increased seat pitch will only come about when it is legislated and the sooner the better.

1st Feb 2002, 03:33
E Cam:. .The economics, competetively, wouldn't matter if a government were to set an operating mandate of, say, 30" minimum seat pitch for any carrier to operate into or out of the respective country. All carriers wishing to do business in that country would have to meet minimum seat pitch requirements, no matter whether flying scheduled or charterted. The public would be protected from seat claustrophobia, to be sure. <img src="rolleyes.gif" border="0">

1st Feb 2002, 11:56

I am categorically NOT wrong about the non-success of the TWA variant.

I am categorically NOT wrong about AA's refleeting operation, and the number of seats per hull.

Now, it may be that the bean counters didn't forsee a downturn (although, since the industry *is* cyclical, *everyone* should forsee downturns. The trick is knowing when, how deep, and for how long).

If you prefer, you can just recognize that AA certainly knew what the take-up (of the additional capacity) was on routes with the new configs. Plus, with their (then recent) acquisition of Reno, they knew that price wasn't working as a short-haul differentiator.

But, whatever... the fact is that the AA scheme is basically revenue neutral based on the larger aircraft being deployed!


1st Feb 2002, 13:45
The information my company provides (and it may of course be propaganda) is that at a seat pitch above 28", the 757-200 becomes uneconomic, and therefore forces us to change fleet - I understand that A319/320/321 & 757-300 are preferred options. Therefore, the costs are somewhat higher than simply reconfiguring the cabin. This assumes an increase to 30" pitch - I thought that the Sunday Times was suggesting 32" on shorthaul and 34" on longhaul, in which case, who knows what type works?

In light of the court case that started this thread, wouldn't carriers still be vulnerable to litigation from pax suffering "discomfort", whatever the future seat pitch may be? Surely discomfort is a perception and therefore relative - you can still be uncomfortable at 36" pitch (seat width, hardness of seat back, lack of padding in cushions etc.)

1st Feb 2002, 14:55
Malc Loading Cargo

The 737-800 and 777 are a relatively small portion of AA's fleet and anyway the fact is that they are reconfiguring ALL their aircraft 777s, 737s, 757s, 767s, MD80s,Fokker 100s etc. including those taken on from TWA. SoAll their aircraft on All their routes will have the new configuration when the project is completed (next month I hear).

I don't believe I commented on the success or otherwise of TWA's move to increase seat pitch some year ago.

The point is one carrier has taken a bold step and provided more leg room and should be applauded for it.

[ 01 February 2002: Message edited by: oncemorealoft ]</p>

1st Feb 2002, 15:29
Mark, welcome to PPRuNE.

Instead of just looking at reports in isolation, I suggest you should talk to the operators concerned. As suggested by my colleague Tightslot, the costs involved are far more complex than just a simple fare increase in line with the loss of a few seats.

I donít expect all the operators to agree to talk to you, but I imagine itís in their own interests.

I would also hope, that when you have the operators point of view, you will publish a balanced article, citing all the facts and not just a select few.

Hot 'n' High
1st Feb 2002, 16:11
Good to see Mark on the Site. I just hope your Editor is as open-minded as you appear to be lest all your good intentions come to an untimely end. <img src="tongue.gif" border="0">

While the DVT issue and the Comfort issue are legally seperate from where I stand (as one of the great non-legally trained proletariat) I am sure the Comfort case came about due to the exposure given to the DVT issue. As I understand it, the DVT case is based on "failure to warn" rather than "did cause". The former will lead to market-driven change. The latter would lead(simplistically) to Regulatory change.

I have total sympathy with all those who have suffered from DVT, or lost loved ones through DVT. However, I recently saw a UK Trading Standards Officer discussing a completely non-Aviation related issue. She came up with an very sensible conclusion which I feel is worth bringing up. She said (and I paraphrase) "Notwithstanding what has happened here, I believe the general public has lost sight of the fact that you generally get what you pay for. In addition, life is full of risks and will never be risk-free. The Consumer must make a judgement call." There speaketh 'The System' with a good dose of common sense for a change.

I'm off shopping soon and will have to drive. Quick risk-assessment, take the plunge and lets risk the car on the road today. Mind you, what loopy driver is out there waiting to get me? If you never hear from H 'n' H again, you'll know he/she got me folks!

The fact is, if Industries are open and mature about Risk, the Public must also be open and mature about Risk. I believe this is where Mark and his fellow "Hacks" can educate and open up debate. Those in the Media who sensationalise to sell copy are actually standing in the way of progress brought about through free and frank discussion. Can we sue them and the Media for slowing down progress I ask myself? One could argue that anyone with unpalitable news to release will look at the media and see how it will be portrayed. If they feel it will be sensationalised who will be keen to step forward? What we need is more people like Mark who, I hope, will remain true to the cause of balanced argument. I hope he will point out the Consumers responsibilities as well as the Industries responsibilities in his discussion.

It is up to us all to keep a balanced approach to this. Oh, and just where is Eutopia on the Charts? And does it have an Airfield near by so I can fly there? <img src="wink.gif" border="0">

H 'n' H

1st Feb 2002, 16:36
TightSlot. .I suspect that you and I work to the same organisation (but where is paradise?). . .Our problem really is that our previous MD went against the advice that he received and brought the Boeing 757 and we have paid for it ever since.. .He of course made lots of money for himself and is still being kept in profitable employment, no doubt with share options and "profit" related bonuses. <img src="confused.gif" border="0"> . .Something wrong somewhere.

Desk Driver
1st Feb 2002, 17:12

I must admit that I've not read your article or all the posts. I suspect this campaign is more about selling papers than protecting the public

The Public demand extremely Low prices and to make this possible seat pitch must be set at the bare minimum to make it pay. Margins are already razor thin and what your suggesting is asking us to raise the average families holiday cost by

Flights under 2 hours = £120

Flights 2 - 4 hours = £220

Flights 4 + anywhere between £220 & £500.

(These are rough figures worked out on the back of a fag packet.)

And I suspect that if your successful your next campaign wil be titled

"Why are the British paying more for their holidays than the europeans?"

. .Welcome to pprune BTW <img src="wink.gif" border="0">

1st Feb 2002, 17:21
Sky 9, when I was interviewed for the job, I was asked what we should get to replace the aging 737-200 fleet. I replied in my youthful ignorance ďthe 757 sirĒ The interviewer looked at me over his specs and said, ďgood lord noÖwe would never buy the 757. Our competitors have those and we lead, not follow. R B wasnít in charge at that point. <img src="frown.gif" border="0"> <img src="frown.gif" border="0">

1st Feb 2002, 17:44
Simple solution to all this: legislate a minimum 30inch seat pitch, prices increase to compensate, watch a segment of the passenger demand (and a couple of marginally viable operators) drop off the radar and let market forces sort it out. Pure commodity stuff.. .And what's wrong with going to Butlins for your hols, anyway?. . <img src="wink.gif" border="0">

Mark Hodson
1st Feb 2002, 18:13
Thanks all for your interesting replies. A few points in no particular order:

Yes, I am aware that the extra costs of reconfiguring are complex (aircraft downtime, jiggling around with carpets, oxygen masks, IFE, etc). Some carriers have been reluctant to discuss this with me, but an ops manager at Monarch reckoned the total increase in costs might be as much as 15%, which would probably go directly on fares. Surely not too much to pay for increased comfort, safety and - perhaps - health?

Yes, we're out to sell papers, but we also think this is a worthwhile cause. We also don't promise a balanced view, as this is a campaign, so we'll be editorialising. However, I hope it'll be a considered view based on the available facts. I'd love to write the full story, as someone suggested, but I reckon I'd need about 5,000 words and I've only got room for about 1,500, so something has to go.

I do hope we won't be so crass as to make our next campaign "Why are the British paying more for their holidays than the Europeans?" Don't we actually pay less? Certainly we pay less than the Germans. Personally, I think we need to change the culture of cut-price holidays, even if that means some people can no longer afford to travel so much as they do now. It's rather like the way motoring has been cleaned up - we don't want people driving around old bangers that belch out smoke and have dodgy brakes, so we legislate, even if that means a few people can no longer afford to drive. Society is the winner.

You can read my stuff online (www.sunday-times.co.uk/travel). If I've got anything wrong, I'll trust you to let me have it with both barrels!


Hot 'n' High
1st Feb 2002, 18:34
Well, Mark, at least you are honest about being biased!

However, I trust that you will point out the COST to the Consumer of any changes. After all, it will pay to remember two things. 1 - Openness is based on trust so if you stitch people up editorially, you as a professional will pay for it in the long run as people will cut you off. 2 - Even a campaign must be realistic. As I said in my last post, problems are solved by teamwork between all Stakeholders. If you are unrealistic you simply make yourself look foolish and further tarnish the Journalist as a Professional.

By all means call for a satisfactory solution but I trust you will include the sentiments of the Trading Standards lassie I cited and basically say "This is what we would like to see and these are the costs and benefits associated with that solution".

Look forward to your article!

H 'n' H <img src="wink.gif" border="0">

1st Feb 2002, 19:24
Interesting to read the comments from Mark of Sunday Times.

One aspect of this I really cannot grasp when reading replies defending the current situation is the phrase 'you get what you pay for'.

If it were related to whether you get a cup of coffee or an inflight movie, then I can see the point (and would agree), but surely the same approach cannot be taken with safety.

Passengers who do not read this website, and who know little of aircraft safety, are hardly in a position to judge as to whether to fly with a given airline, where according to this report the seat pitch is too low to be safe. Passengers ASSUME that safety WILL be the main priority of the airlines (no matter how cheap).

For that reason (much as I generally dislike newspaper campaigns) I believe the Sunday Times is justified in asking what are very pertinent questions. Questions that everyone in the aviation industry seems to be hoping will go away.

American Airlines incidentally, should be widely paised for what they have done. They now provide the largest seat pitch (by a large margin) in regular economy.

1st Feb 2002, 19:34
Mark - congratulations to you and to the Sunday Times for taking up this issue. I am convinced that many cases of 'air rage' might be the result of the discomfort and frustration of being hemmed in like a battery chicken.

Airlines and operators advertising increased seat pitch will be most welcome; there surely must be a minimum level of comfort and safety which must be provided - really we should expect 34" minimum on all public transport flights!

1st Feb 2002, 19:57
Has there ever been research on the value of the crash position in a real impact?

Hot 'n' High
1st Feb 2002, 20:14
Hi FPPF, the phrase "you get what you pay for" is actually how all safety issues are addressed in terms of a Cost/Benefit Analysis (CBA) tradeoff - be it in planes, trains, buildings, ships, anything....., even the materials used in your bed! Apologies for being boring but I will explain.

100% safety is the goal but is statistically an impossibility. If you look at additional cost verses additional safety in, say, a building in an earthquake region, the returns are diminishing. For example, assume a 10% reduction in Probability of Damage (PoD) during a quake costs £10M. A further 10% reduction in PoD will cost £100M, a further 10% costs £1000M and so on. Somewhere, you trade off risk against cost else we could not afford the building in the first place! In fact, just to be safe, better chop the trees down too.

Aircraft are machines and as such are subject to similar risk assessment. As you said, the Consumer cannot become directly involved with this. However, and this is where the Press need to educate people into the Cost of any change, the Consumer influences where this and other CBAs cut off. By expecting/demanding lower fares, the Safety CBA will inevitably come under pressure along with all other aspects. That is why Regulations exist to ensure MIMIMUM standards are met.

Only by the Consumer paying for the extra safety, in this case, more room between seats, can the Safety CBA work to improve things. If they don't agree to pay for it then it will not appear in global terms. Short-term marketing strategies could "buy" Consumers additional safety over a competitor but, alas, market forces will ensure that blip is flattened out and there will be a net cost to the Industry which the Consumer eventually must pay for.

So there is a fact of life which I wish people would understand - you do get what you pay for. That is why I said "Stakeholder Teamwork" is what is required to sort this. Airline Managers want people to fly, do not want to be taken to Court, need to make a profit (where is your pension fund invested by the way?) and the price the Consumer is willing to pay has a direct bearing on what people in the Industry can do. And if you say markets are NOT price-sensitive, just look at Go, Easyjet, Ryanair et al!

So, when you go to bed tonight you may look on that bit of furniture in a different light. It has been well and truly CBA'd! Now, is H 'n' H simply "Sad" or has he completely "Lost It"! Either way, hopefully I've explained that phrase "you get what you pay for"!

H 'n' H <img src="smile.gif" border="0">

Jet II
1st Feb 2002, 21:42
DVT is not just confined to economy/charter class cabins, SLF travelling in Club/First have also been similarly afflicted. More people get DVT having travelled in Economy than Club/First, but then again more people travel Economy anyway. Has there been any scientific research into the ratios from each cabin, and why if sitting in one place causes DVT are the Flight Crew not dropping like flies.

Seat pitch and general comfort are a separate matter, and generally, as has been said before, you get what you pay for. If you buy a Mini you will not get the same amount of comfort as a Mercedes.

1st Feb 2002, 21:48
I am only a pax, who flies almost every week on business purposes and twice a year on holidays. Always on economy class, btw. This is my simple view of this subject:

I must say that, as a customer, I always look for the best that costs the less, meaning that I have a certain amout of money and I'll try to get the best deal with that amount. Almost all customers would probably proceed like that. I weigh whatever is important to me in order to make this decision, meaning for instance that I will pay a little more for confort even if it means that I will have to stay less time than I wanted to. But that's me, others will probably have another view.

I personally agree that "you get what you pay for". It is generally fair. The main point here, though, is that almost all customers have no idea what they are paying when buying air tickets other than the fact that the airline will take them from point A to point B. If you ask general public how one measures seat pitch, 90% will have no idea. The other 10% will get it wrong. That is the issue here. General public knows they will be unconfortable in such low fare trips, they just do not know how much.

Can't change seat configurations on planes? No problem, but state on the advertisement that "Seat conditions may be unsafe in case of accident and evacuation". Just like a pack of cigarretes. That is honest to the general public. State that "People with back problems may need medical help on the arrival". Just like a rollercoaster. Then yes, after all this, I will agree that whoever bought it got what he paid for.

The way it is now, it is simply not a honest deal.

Mark Hodson
1st Feb 2002, 21:51
There has been no proper wide-ranging studies of flight-induced DVT per se, let alone a breakdown between different cabins.

2nd Feb 2002, 01:02
Jet II, you said: [quote]Why if sitting in one place causes DVT are the Flight Crew not dropping like flies.<hr></blockquote>Let's get that urban myth buried quickly, lest it detract from the real debate.

Flight crew 'seat pitch' (for want of a better phrase) cannot be compared in any way with that provided for the SLF. Seats are adjustable fore and aft, up and down, and rudder pedals are also adjustable in the fore and aft sense. Seat backs can be reclined to some extent and, on most flightdecks, the pilots are separated by feet rather than inches. Pilots are engaged in constant, though limited, physical activity.

These factors, then, may have something to do with why flight crew are not 'dropping like flies'. :)

2nd Feb 2002, 01:21
Just to throw another hand granade into the middle, AA are operating their 757's with 180 seats.. .Mabe the Yanks are more health aware than we are

2nd Feb 2002, 17:19
Hot n Hih,

I agree you get what you pay for in all walks of life. But in the context of my last two posts, I was relating purely to SAFETY.

Are we to assume, that a lower fare could be offered to passengers by only having one pilot on say a 737, and if he pops his clogs, then the passengers have no right to complain as 'they get what they pay for'.

What is being discussed is MINIMUM safety standards, and most passengers ASSUME that the airlines priority will be to comply with minimum standards. The ICE report suggests that current practice is unsafe in relation to some seat dimensions (read the report). As regards the brace position, I am no expert on this, but my understanding has always been it was derived from data and studies looking at actual injuries sustained in airline crashes. (but, please correct me if I'm wrong).

I am pretty sure the described brace position would not have been mandated in the way it has been, if it was not felt to be of importance, and as such, it can only be dangerous if, according to this report a large percentage of passengers cannot adopt said position.

As regards, 'you get what you pay for', it should more correctly, in aviation, be 'you get what you think you pay for'. Most passengers believe safety is paramount when they purchase an airline ticket. If this report is correct, then that is simply not the case.

As someone has already pointed out, if passengers were told at time of ticket purchase that the flight would be grossly uncomfortable and they would not be able to adopt the CAA stipulated brace position (designed to minimise injury)and the seats were too close together to evacuate quickly in an emergency, then most passengers WOULD choose an alternative. At present they DO NOT have that information and cannot make such a judgement.

Much has been made of studies suggesting that passengers will not pay more for larger seats etc.. but if those same passengers were given the above information at time of purchase, with a compliant ticket costing £50 more, I do not think many would go for the cheaper ticket.

I cannot stress this more than enough, the general public ASSUME safety is assured no matter how cheap the ticket. A typical explanation of this from the travelling public would be "they wouldn't let it fly if it was unsafe".

As regards the comment that everything in life has risks, I agree entirely. Does this mean that in aviation we should not minimise risks where possible? No one is asking for ten extra engines or airbags! Simply that the seats are adequately placed to allow for evacuation and adoption of the Brace position. As the cost would be passed on to the punters, I really do not think it is such a big deal.

Cost benefit analysis in relation to safety is irrelevant, until such an anlysis is performed in the light of all relevant factors, including said sudy. Until then it is theoretical piffle.

Anyway I've had my say, I'm not an expert in this area, so I feel as though I've had more than my thruppennies worth, already. I just get irritated at the nonsense arguments put forward as a means of bypassing good safety standards, and excusing sloppy practice. The nonsense arguments don't stand up to scrutiny. I hope the Sunday Times is successful. I suspect nothing will happen, as I said before, until the sh*t hits the fan. Sadly.

I'll shut up now.

Jet II
2nd Feb 2002, 19:41

"Most passengers believe safety is paramount when they purchase an airline ticket"

Safety is not, and never has been paramount. All decisions regarding aircraft standards are made using a cost-benefit analysis. It is the same in every other walk of life.

Any argument about seat pitch/width should be made to the relevant licencing authority (FAA/CAA)it is they who decide how much leg room you will get and whether it is safe. An airline will only extend seat pitch if everyone else does, because the SLF has shown (see the success of Easyjet, Ryanair, Southwest etc) that price is king.

4th Feb 2002, 12:55
With regard to the "brace" position, I was under the impression that the idea was to get everybody's head below the top of the seats, thus having a much higher chance of keeping the teeth in reasonably close proximity to the rest of the body and enabling quicker identifcation of remains!

Hot 'n' High
4th Feb 2002, 22:51

Just picked up your post. You and I are both on the same side here - improved Flight Safety at the end of the day. I am quite sure your "theoretical piffle" comment is not meant to imply that I would condone shoddy Flight Safety! At various times I have been Pilot, Aerospace Engineer and Pax and Flight Safety gets my absolute vote from all angles. Bottom line is it keeps me alive at the end of the day! And CBA is what helps me get that Safety.

In my initial post I just wished to mention that it is a fact of life that Safety, as with all other aspects of Design, including the generation of Minimum Standards in the first place, is based on costs vs benefits and needs to be paid for. This happens in any industry. CBA is the tool we use to ensure that economically sustainable Flight Safety levels exist to everyone's benefit. Not only does this CBA process take place during the design process of a specific aircraft. When setting legal minima, there are a whole range of Stakeholders who all have their input and who carry out CBAs before voicing their views. I am sure I am correct when I say that everyone wants better Safety - it is just the weighting which changes. It all boils down to Risk Management. For an example of how interpretation differs, you, yourself, said that no one is asking for "ten extra engines" - but I am sure there are those people out there who would not dream of stepping on board an aircraft even if it had 1000 engines! Remember the ETOPS debate? What CBA does is take the risks, takes the solution, their costs and their effectiveness and draws that line. Yes, it does take the things like the findings of the report into account. What often happens is that the resulting solution is not what an individual would expect, nor does it occur within the timescales we would like. And the bottom line is we do get what we pay for. Alas, I am not quite so sure that consumers always react as we would expect - people are often illogically fickle when it comes to spending money.

In this case it is clear that, statistically, things have changed. Is that not why these sort of reports are periodically compiled anyway? It does seem that there needs to be a review of the whole ergonomic situation in the cabin. Indeed, even as that review takes place a new compromise will be reached through CBA. Where is the cut-off on the distribution curve where we redefine the minimum seat pitch? Should the new minima apply retrospectively? Should we publish that anyone over a certain height does not meet this minima, old and/or new? Maybe we should? Do we go as far as some Theme Parks which clearly state "Height limitations exist on some rides"? Where does this line on telling people what is going on actually fall? I guess this is where you are coming from. Minima are actually generated to save people having to check if something is safe. Effectively, society does that for them through legislation. However, it will still only be safe for the X%ile. Your car will be the same. In this particular case, legislation needs a review. In addition, data may need to be made available but, again, where do we draw the line? Just how much information do the travelling public require? Wish I knew the answer! Clearly, something needs to be done, all we have to do is work out how much and what the cost is. Once again, our friends in Marketing may be able to advise us just how price-sensitive people are, even when Safety is discussed.

Finally, FPPF, I had to laugh at your comment about "only having one pilot on say a 737"! There are several breeds of Aviator who do not exist anymore today. Navigators were first out the Cockpit. Flight Engineers are now almost extinct and their loss to the cockpit is still debated to this very day. And, yes, their departure from their seats did/does reduce costs. Even the seats went! So, how much longer will Pilots exist? Now, before you decide that H 'n' H has lost it completely, I am sure Navs and FEs were deemed "indispensable" in their day! I am not saying our licences will be valueless in 10 years let alone 100, but I know there are Bean-counters out there who want us out. It's just that CBA is keeping us in there as they have not overcome all the issues - yet! And, on that cynical note, I, too, will step aside from the debate - with audible sighs of relief from the entire PPRruNe fraternity at that revelation! Like, FPPF, I do hope we get the changes right and that can only be helped by sensible lobbying by groups including the Press (the voice of reason?).

Regards, H 'n' H

6th Feb 2002, 11:50
I don't know about AA being revenue neutral with their increased seat pitch. It could be positive revenue. I'm going to San Diego next week - and because AA have a bigger seat pitch, they've got the business.

Even though I have a BA frequent flyer card.

6th Feb 2002, 12:25
Make sure that you make BA aware of that!!