These Airplanes Are Really %&*!#! Crowded

The major airlines are reporting the most crowded March ever, with more planes flying close to capacity than ever before. From USA Today:

As the big airlines have clawed their way out of the deep financial losses that followed terrorism and recession earlier in the decade, they’ve aggressively moved to fill every seat possible with a paying passenger. In March, spring break vacationers and bad weather jammed even more people than normal into planes.

“The weather impact has been unusual in early 2007,” says Tim Wagner of American Airlines.

Experts see a crowded March as indication that the 2007 peak summer travel season will be especially miserable. Fear the middle seat! SeatGuru has never seemed so useful. —MEGHANN MARCO

Airlines filling more seats [USA Today]


Edit Your Comment

  1. dragonflight says:

    Sigh, I miss the days where you could sprawl out on 6 seats and sleep.

    Then again, I haven’t been able to do that in nearly 10 years at this point.

  2. timmus says:

    Amen. The last time I felt like I had room on a flight was in December 1988. I realize the seats around me are there for a reason, but I’ve been spoiled by travelling in the 1970s and 1980s.

  3. esquilax says:

    to me, the percentage of seats filled stat isn’t as interesting as the change in the number of seats for an equivalent-sized aircraft… anybody have that stat?

  4. B says:

    More people per plane means less fuel per person, which makes flying more environmentally friendly. Yay!

  5. cabinaero says:

    @esquilax: I don’t have that information but it might be difficult to quantify. Airline seats are shrinking in overall size but increasing in personal space — the actual area you have to sit in. M

    Look at the new coach seats Cathay Pacific or Singapore Airlines for an idea of what’s possible. Save a half inch of depth on each seat and you can add several rows of coach to a 747 without decreasing personal space.

  6. crnk says:

    No sympathy here for any uncomfortable pax. If it is too crowded or not comfortable, PAY for a seat upfront or the seat next to you and keep it empty. You’ve paid for a single seat, and that should be exactly what you get. The only reason high loads are bad for consumers is when missed connections start to cause a landslide of bumped passengers.

  7. timmus says:

    Yes sir!

  8. doormat says:

    Seatguru = the best. I’m looking at a few flights this summer and its nice to see what seats to avoid (though mostly southwest so its not like I get to choose my seat until I get on the plane).

    Also, one of the other things I noticed is that prices are going up quicker than I expected. I looked at a flight on Sunday night for $230, the next day I went back to southwest’s website and the “internet special” price was sold out and the price for the same flight was $350! $120 in 24 hours. Everyone is booking their flights now for the summer it seems.

  9. sleze69 says:

    With all these filled flights, how are any airlines still having financial problems?

  10. ajn007 says:

    IMPORTANT CONTEXT: These flights are so full because so many flights had been canceled that they had to put more passengers on less flights. According to the story linked above:

    “Due to cancellations, airlines had to consolidate passengers on fewer planes than initially planned. Planes were so full that passengers waited days to be rebooked on other flights.”

    So it is not that more people are flying, it is because there were fewer seats available for all the people who were flying in March. The percentage of various planes that are full is not the whole story.

  11. aviationwiz says:

    A lot of these seats are being filled by passengers paying very low fares that aren’t always profitable.

  12. RumorsDaily says:

    I’ve been lamenting this fact lately, it’s very noticeable. I used to fly a lot in 2003 and 2004, the planes were often half empty. Now you rarely see a plane that’s not close to capacity. As a customer, it’s annoying… but I’m surprised that it took airlines this long to figure this out.

  13. strandist says:

    So long as a customer pays something, a filled seat is more profitable than an empty one. People have made a clear statement that cost is more important than comfort based on the success of low-cost airlines. So why should we complain now about an ailine filling every seat they can?