The Legroom Party Is Officially Over At Midwest Airlines

Midwest Airlines loyalists, prepare to be upset, the airline is adding 11 seats to its formerly roomy coach section. In addition to converting good seats to less good ones, they’re adding a charge for the remaining quality seats.

To the press release:

Midwest Class features 40 of the airline’s extra-wide leather Signature seats in a two-by-two configuration with 35-36 inches of legroom, along with 59 newly designed leather Saver seats in a three-by-two configuration with 32 inches of legroom. The new seating design provides the greatest percentage of enhanced-comfort coach seating of any domestic airline. Passengers in both types of seats will receive the same exceptional service for which the airline is known.

“Our customers have told us they want a choice of seating, and Midwest Class enables us to respond to their needs,” said Randall K. Smith, Midwest Airlines’ vice president of sales and distribution. “We will continue to offer fewer overall seats on the Boeing 717s than other airlines, which means more room and comfort for travelers.”

Passengers paying select business fares will be assigned a Signature seat, if available. Leisure and sale fares will be assigned a Saver seat, with the option to request Signature seating for a $25-75 fee based on route and availability. Customers can also request Signature seating at the time of check-in, if available. All Midwest Class customers can enjoy Best Care Cuisine, the airline’s buy-onboard meal program that features chef-prepared entrees made fresh daily, and complimentary baked-onboard chocolate chip cookies on flights after 10 a.m.

Before we’re too hard on them, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says they’re down to only 23 planes after grounding 80% of their fleet due to fuel costs.

Next month, the airline will cut its route network and work force by 40 % in hopes of controlling costs and avoiding Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

The airline’s original plans included seat additions for MD-80 jets, which had made up about one-third of the company’s fleet and have since been grounded because of their poor fuel efficiency.

“They’re on life support,” said Scott Hamilton, a consultant who operates Leeham Co. out of Issaquah, Wash. “When you’re down to 23 planes, you have no reason to exist anymore.”

Smith said the new seating plan will still bring in millions more in sales, though less than the $30 million projected when the plans included more jets.

Good luck, Midwest.

Midwest’s tiered seating plan adds 11 more seats on Boeing 717s
[Milwaukee J-S] (Thanks, Brian!)
Midwest Airlines Introduces Midwest Class Seating Choice (Press Release) [Midwest Airlines]
(Photo: FlyGuy92586 )

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.