More airlines join the big consumer squeeze

24 November 2008

God, I'm angry. I could pull the head off a mouse, I'm so apoplectic with rage. Actually I'm not, but I was mildly irritated reading this morning's Telegraph.

See, nothing upsets me more than short people. More specifically, nothing upsets me more than short people loafing about in plane seats with extra legroom. The merest sight is guaranteed to have me wanting to punch the back of their heads. You're short. You don't need it. You're a bastard. And so on.

Of course there are seats in economy with additional legroom, but these come at a cost. Thomson has charged for these seats for years, as has Virgin Atlantic and other airlines. Now other scheduled airlines are getting in on the act; Singapore Airlines is following the lead of Air France and is to charge customers for the privilege. A spokesman for Singapore Airlines said:

"We believe customers will welcome this service as it offers them more choice. The ability to confirm these seats prior to check-in will give passengers peace of mind when booking flights with us."

Balls. This type of service isn't to offer extra choice; it's to squeeze as much money as possible out of consumers. And boy are they trying their damnedest; Air France is charging £42 per single fare while Singapore Airelines is charging £32 per flight - if you have a multi-legged trip, you're charged £32 per leg.

The reason I get so emotional, is because a plane's seating is spaced out to provide adequate legroom for passengers of average height, about 5' 10", so a shorter person can enjoy a perfectly comfortable flight in a normal seat. Anybody of my height - 6' 4" - can't. Every airline is happy to take my money knowing full well my trip will be bloody miserable. I shouldn't have to pay extra to travel in a modicum of comfort when common sense would ensure everybody did.

Of course that doesn't matter in the slightest; a quick totting up of how many economy seats offer extra legroom per flight and how much revenue a single flight can generate, means no airline is going to change their ways anytime soon.

In the meantime, if you're the prick who reclines their seat as fast and as hard as possible, as if it's a time-trial, could you please refrain from doing so. Not only would it mean me arriving at the destination without bruised knees, but I'd be less likely to retaliate by sticking one in your back every opportunity I get. Short arse.

TOPICS:   Travel

6 comments

  • Liam T.
    If this is mildly irritated I wouldn't like to see you angry. You are a very aggressive person and perhaps need to take anger management classes. Otherwise why don't you attempt to find a solution to your problem instead of complaining. You certainly do make mountains out of a mole hill. You can't have your cake and eat it. You can't be a bargain hunter looking for the cheapest seat then complain at the lack of legroom because you're too tight-wadded to upgrade to a better seat. You get what you pay for. To target a certain sector of society who are hardly the cause of your problem is ridiculous. I just hope that you don't transfer your discriminatory, aggressive attitude into the real world. I suspect that you hide behind your online persona to post such utter dribble.
  • Paul S.
    Curses Liam, the truth is out. Yes, they call me Captain Furious. Behold my beams of molten magma. My point of view is that I'm discriminated against because of my height, as are thousands of other passengers. I'm treated like a second class passenger in economy class. Not only can I not sit properly, but I can't watch the in-flight films - the difference between my eye level and the screen causes the image to polarise, rendering it unwatchable. Longhaul flights mean no legroom and no in-flight entertainment. I've paid the same as every other passenger - should I really have to pay for the same basic level of comfort? When I last enquired with Virgin Atlantic a couple of years ago, they wanted £50 each way for extra legroom. On a flight costing £300, that's a 33% increase in the cost of the fare. That's unacceptable. If passengers were charged more for being too fat, there'd be an outcry - airlines would be accused of victimisation and profiteering, yet it's perfectly acceptable in this instance. And don't worry Liam, my parole officer had me tagged this time round. The streets are safe from my furious ways.
  • Steven P.
    In response to the comment by Liam Taylor and his thoughts on Paul Smith's 'Utter Dribble', all I can say is that you exhibit a classic case of 'well if it doesn't affect me why should I care' syndrome. As a person at 6'7'' in height, I regularly have the 'pleasure' of experiencing being crammed into an economy class seat which is clearly not even close in design to someone like myself. I would like to see how you handle having to regularly sit on flights north of 10 hours long with you knees jammed into the seat in front of you. I personally believe that airlines should do something reasonably possible for people like us. And no that doesn't mean free upgrades to business class, but potentially having better allocation of economy seats as opposed to squeezing every last cent out of its passengers is a great start. As for Liam's assertion that Paul is targeting a certain sector of society who aren't the cause of the problem, I think you are way off the mark -Paul (and my own) problem is with the cause of the problem, the airlines themselves. And finally Liam, I suggest you go crawl back under the rock you came from. We live in a society that is slowly growing in understanding of its right as a consumer. You my friend, have got a lot to learn.
  • Chris
    I'm 6'3" but most of my length is in my legs. It's painful sitting on a plane crushed in so I'm very much with you on this. I can't imagine what it would be like to be even taller so my heart goes out to you. It's especially worse when you're dealing with someone who doesn't seem to understand that no matter how hard they push backwards your knees aren't going to magically dissapear. I've only ever managed the coveted exit seat for a long flight once, thankfully it was a flight to Australia. I was furious on the way home as I got to the airport very early to try and reserve myself the extra legroom only to find it had already gone, this was despite me being there before the check in at the departure point elsewhere. I was put out but there was nothing I could do at this point. What made me furious was that the person who'd taken the seat was about 5'3" tall, not in anyway disabled basically not in need of any extra room. The other two people were about average height but they weren't as annoying because they weren't in front of me. To make matters worse; underneath the seat in front of me was some sort of metal box which was part of the plane. It took half the space up so I had nowhere to put my feet. Then the idiot in front shoved her seat back as hard as possible trying to shorten my body. I got a look of utter contempt and an audible tutting when I politely asked that she didn't do that. I still had to sit there with my legs of into the aisle though as there was no way I could sit comfortably. Unfortunately this meant I was continually moving for the stewards so they could bring their drinks trolley round. Thankfully they moved me during the stopover but not to a seat with legroom. Admittedly unless they moved someone else. I did audibly suggest a height restriction on exit seats. Hopefully the troll who was in front of me took the hint. With regards to charging for extra legroom it's a disgrace. I haven't chosen to be above average height. It's discrimination plain and simple. Change it from height to skin colour and you'd have a national scandal on your hands.
  • Jeff
    What do you think about tall people who sit in the front row at plays, speeches, and other events when they could see perfectly well from further back? And then what if the tall person keeps shifting from left to right with no consideration for the short person in back who has to keep shifting as well to compensate for the moving view obstruction? Is it discriminatory if short people who wish to have unobstructed views have to pay more for seats up front or have to reserve their seats further in advance. Life is not always fair and if the trade-off for having a flight at a cheap price and a convenient time is a cramped seat, then that's too bad, but it's the way it is. And people should always check behind them on planes before reclining their seats.
  • Chris
    If they have no need to sit in the front row then yes they're ignorant gits. However, being crushed in a plane is more dangerous to your health than having a crap view at the theatre. Myself, I'm well aware that when I sit at the theatre I'm possibly blocking someones view so I try to sit as low as possible, however, there's only so far I can go as my knees will be up against the seat in front. People are getting taller yet space provided it getting less. That's the real problem.

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