United Airlines President Says It's Customers' Own Fault the Airline Is Shoving More Seats Into Planes

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

United Airlines has been trying.

This doesn’t mean United’s customers have stopped complaining.

Recently, I talked to a United Million Miler who was enraged about delays, not being able to get upgrades and several other apparently annoying elements.

What, though, do United’s customers complain about most?

Poor WiFi is the number one complaint from our frequent travelers and it’s definitely something we want to get fixed.

And there you were thinking that customer service would be the most irritating part of flying.

For me, I confess, the worst is airlines shoveling more and more seats onto planes, so they can make more money.

For Kirby, though, it’s customers’ own fault that United now has 10 seats across a Boeing 777 in Economy Class. He said: 

Quite simply it costs us the same to fly a 777 across the Atlantic with 10 or 9 abreast. You have find what people care about and what they are willing to pay for. If you have only 9 abreast, you’d have to charge everyone 11 percent more to break even. So are people willing to pay an extra $110 on a $1000 transatlantic fare to sit in a row with one less seat? The answer is unequivocally no.

It’s tantalizing, isn’t it? 

Kirby apparently has data showing that you, dear, customer, don’t mind being squished to within an inch of a lung.

He insists, indeed, that most of the world’s airlines agree with him and fly 777’s with 10 seats across.

But then there’s Delta.

The airline had decided that no, it wouldn’t shove 10 seats across its Boeing 777-200 planes.

Even more startling was the fact that it was going to make those Economy Class seats wider.

Could it be that Delta’s customers are prepared to pay a little more for greater comfort?

Could it also be a general sense of superior customer service allows Delta to introduce all kinds of touches that enhance human experience and encourage loyalty?

It’s an enticing thought, isn’t it?

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