September 2, 2014 | Kendall Creighton Fight Or Flight? Tuesday, September 2, 2014 The next crisis is occurring at 30,000 feet. Joe Giron, The New York Times Sardined passengers are now turning on each other. Two fights on US aircraft made headlines worldwide last week that led to emergency landings and passengers being forcibly removed. Kneed More Space In one argument, a woman threw a glass of water over the man seated behind her who locked her seat upright with a clamp called “Knee Defender”. The water belongs in the airlines’ faces. Coach class mutiny is brewing, and sardine conditions are to blame. Yet the airlines manipulate passengers to redirect their anger, not at the airlines’ own misrepresentation of the function of a coach-class seat, but at their fellow passengers. It is the airlines falsifying the economic worth of a ticket and misrepresenting what it offers for your money. The standard coach seat is today 17.2 inches wide with a 29-30 inch seat pitch, tight enough to make it impossible to work on a laptop, read, or eat behind a reclined seat. Tighter and tighter coach cabin seating encourages enmity among passengers. And the holiday travel season is just around the corner. Illustration by Sam Ward, USA TODAY Do travelers have the “right” to recline their seats, or the “right” not have their space invaded? It can be argued that neither passenger has these “rights”. This is an example of a “zero-sum” condition, where one person’s gain is another’s loss. The problem is that the airlines are selling the rights to the same space to two people. Ten years ago, reclining your seat wasn’t considered ‘rude’ or ‘impolite’ because it didn’t impinge so much into the space of the person behind. Reclining seats were designed for a different era. Trying to find a civil solution to an un-civil situation is impossible. There is no civil solution to the airlines’ treatment of coach class passengers. They will continue to lower the standard of travel as much as they can to squeeze the most money out of passengers. On the horizon is stand-up saddle seating. The airlines control travel today. There was a time when ships and trains dominated the industry, and we saw the sub-human steerage accommodations that were made available to the passengers of the Titanic and other ships of the time. Exiting Concerns In Case Of Emergency Following the Asiana crash in July 2013,FlyersRights wrote extensively about the lack of vital safety improvements needed inside the cabin. We sounded the alarm on substandard seat pitch due to airlines being allowed to insert extra rows to increase profits, resulting in passengers unable to brace themselves according to the aircraft safety card. Passengers also cannot exit a plane in 90 seconds during an emergency as required by the FAA, due to lack of egress in seat rows. What is needed is the FAA stepping in and setting a minimum distance between airline seats – for passenger health, safety and comfort. The FlyersRights Passenger Bill of Rights 2.0 calls for minimum seat space standards. If the airlines aren’t going to make the experience of flying better, than we passengers should, as collectively if possible. Tell the airlines to shake a leg on the space issue. It’s not a stretch asking for more leg room. Airlines Are Tossing Seat-Back Screens In yet another step to slowly strip passengers of all their comforts, the airlines are phasing out seatback screens. The screens are said to be heavy and costly, and the airlines want to offer in-flight entertainment through a server loaded with “hundreds of movies and TV shows that passengers can stream directly through their gadgets”, for a fee. In short, passengers are losing another benefit that used to come with their tickets, but still paying the same amount of money. Another concern about this move away from seatback TVs and towards streaming content is the sort of elitism the airlines seem to be espousing, as if to suggest that they only want the kind of passenger who can afford a tablet. Also, what about older people? What about when you fly with several kids? What about power outlets? In light of the latest spate of seat-recline incidents, requiring passengers to use their own devices will certainly result in more confrontations. Reclining makes it impossible to use a laptop in economy class – you often can’t even put the tray table down. Just another covert way to nickel-and-dime passengers. At the rate things are going, the seat will cost extra! Read More: engadget.com Getting on a Plane? Put This Number in Your Phone: 1-877-FLYERS6 The FlyersRights HOTLINE! FlyersRights.org depends on your tax-dedcutible contribution. Thank you. Kate Hanni, founder with Paul Hudson, President Like what you’re reading? Get the best of FlyersRights’ articles, links and conversation, delivered each week to your inbox! * Send your comments to the newsletter editor, Kendall Creighton.