Coach-minus: a new low in high-flying travel


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Unbundling services is not a political idea, so it’s not a neoliberal idea. It’s just a corporation trying to see how hard they can squeeze their customers. The political part is that we used to have a middle class who could fly off to Europe for vacations. Now nobody can afford plane fares, so airlines are less profitable, so they have to pack more cattle into the car.

A healthy middle class is good for business - so why does business fight so hard to impoverish them?


I agree. However, with the increase in obesity (and massive obesity at that) I would be more likely to fly if seats were allocated (and priced) by size of individual. After all, this is what affects the cost. The biggest risk with this scheme is that fatties are often poorer people and are more likely to try to book cheap seats. Restricting them to people below a certain height and weight could have the unexpected effect of making air travel more comfortable for small people.

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“The neoliberal economic justification…” Where do you get that idea? Not sure if it anything but money grubbing super capitalists or if you need to go political “screw everyone but me” libertarians.


I demand less for my money!

Apparently this means something along the lines of laisser-faire, which is French for “lower fare”.


Surely you are familiar with Laisser les bon temps roulez or Let the good times roll! Laisser mean “to let”, and here could be best translated as Let the (Renaissance) Faire continue, but what overpriced turkey drumsticks and smelly cosplayers have to do with airplane travel I have no idea.

No, wait.


This stinks to high hell of another RyanAir “trial balloon” that they leak to the press and gauge the public’s reaction (like the “stand-up seats” or the pay toilet).


I like that the claimed 30" pitch for “Economy Minus” is still bigger than Spirit’s standard 28" pitch in use today.

Ok, maybe “like” is the wrong word, but I found it interesting.

Also, while I have no complaints in principle about offering people cheaper fares with fewer perks, I know some businesses force you to buy the cheapest available fare for work travel. I also have every reason to believe that “extras” you lose with Economy Minus are likely to be pretty basic things, because that is all that is left.


I’m too poor to fly and have no prospect of ever becoming richer, so I know little about this - but I’m curious. Is there any engineering or physiological reason that air passengers couldn’t be strapped into upright body cradles for their flight? The airlines could really pack the plane if everyone stood still. Of course it would be uncomfortable but passenger comfort is not now a priority. For safety reason you’d have to have some sort of automatic restraint release, I suppose, but if the FAA could be persuaded to relax/revise safety rules, think of the benefit to the corporations. I’m only half joking.

An unnamed airline is said to be planning a “coach-minus” service that features smaller, more crowded seats.

So it’s Ryanair, right?

You can actually pack them tighter if you hang them upside-down.

Ooh, you could market it is “back relief air travel”. Or for vampires.


In the picture, the one guy on the left, Isn’t that Dick Cheney wearing a wig?

I love the way this confusion pops up every time someone who doesn’t really know their political definitions comes across this term.

(To the poster: “Neoliberal” in this case pretty much means “no-regulation capitalists/libertarians,” a usage that’s quite common in much of the rest of the English speaking world, outside the USA.)


The example of the stand-up seats is perfect. Ryan Air put that about for publicity, knowing full well that they would not be able to put more people in any of their planes since they are all configured for the maximum capacity already. A plane is certified to carry a maximum capacity of travelers and that number isn’t increased by adding seats - it’s a matter of carrying capacity and emergency evacuation.

Being from the U.S. however, I immediately thought this was Spirit.

There are two issues with the engineering, and this likely could not be retrofitted onto existing planes. The first is the design of the seats. As an example, it has been established that rear facing seats are safer in an accident (the military uses them on many of their transports), but the FAA hasn’t mandated them because they have to be stronger and therefore heavier. I’m not an engineer, but my gut feeling is that a standup seat would have to be very strong to hold back a decelerating human, simply because the distance from the floor anchor to the center of mass is longer.

The second is the issue of evacuating an aircraft in an emergency. The 757-300 is the longest single aisle aircraft, certified to carry 289 passengers - that’s approx. 49 rows. It deals with evacuation by having 12 total exits, 8 doors and 4 wing exits. (You can’t have any more than 4 wing exits so you would need to add more doors, taking out more seats to do so.) In order to certify the aircraft everyone has to be able to get out of half of the exits in 90 seconds. I just don’t see how that balances out to carry very many more people in a single aisle aircraft.

Contrast the A380, which evacuated 873 people out of half of its 16 exits when it was certified.

ETA video link.

I say they offer three seat sizes, and the large one comes with an anti-reclining device.

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Eh. I’d say it makes no difference if the decision itself is political or not- it’s political at the input and political at the output.

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[Citation Needed.]

A simple back of napkin calculation based on the fact that average American is about 16 pounds heavier than in 1990:

The majority of Unites Airlines’ fleet is the Boeing 737-800. With a max payload of 162 passengers the overall weight increase is a little over 1.25 tons, let’s say 2,600 pounds and round up. With zero passengers, the plane weighs 90,710lb. That makes the weight increase since 1990 a little less than 3% of the aircraft’s empty weight. Considering that the economy of flights improve as you fill them, this is clearly not a major factor in the price of flights today versus over two decades ago, even if we assume that the cost to operate increases linearly.

Obesity is however, a convenient scapegoat. Let’s blame the passengers! (Or we could institute high speed rail in this country, but that’s crazy-talk.)

Edited to add: Sources are the Wiki and Googling, but the 1990 weight increase is based on this link specifically: Americans are getting fatter: poll