No, You Aren't Mysteriously Growing Taller — JetBlue & WestJet Are Cutting Legroom

It’s time to break out the bananas, joked Consumerist tipster Steve when sending us this story — there’s going to be a plethora of charlie horses now that JetBlue and WestJet are going along with the airline industry’s favorite trend and cutting legroom for some nonpremium seats. But if you’re willing to pay more, of course you can get extra legroom.

JetBlue has been fond of bragging about all the space you get in its planes, touting the “most legroom of any other carrier throughout coach,” notes CNN Travel. There will be an inch less room — 32 inches instead of 33 — in 11 rows on 52 of its Embraer E190 planes. With all that saved space, JetBlue will add in two rows of seats with 38 inches of legroom and pad JetBlue’s pockets with $150 million extra in revenue, said a spokeswoman.

WestJet, a Candian airline, is following suit, slashing an inch from regular seats and bringing in four rows with 36 inches of legroom instead, in attempt to attract more business travelers.

“We know there are a lot of business travelers who are essentially flying in the back of larger aircraft that have first class and business cabins, but their companies don’t support first class for business travel necessarily,” says WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer. “Those people we think are looking for home.”

Yes, a home where their legs aren’t smushed up into the seat in front of them. According to an expert who studied body measurements and airline seat design, it isn’t even really legroom — technically speaking, it’s all about butts.

“Our butts squish in different amounts depending on how much muscle and how much fat,” she tells CNN. “Fat squishes more than muscle.” Our thighs squeeze in a bit too, she adds. “So that makes a difference in where your legs fall in the space — as does how much the seat cushion compresses. All those factors interact with each other.”

All of this boils down to one thing — things are going to get a lot less comfortable unless you’re willing to fork over extra money in fees. Welcome to the future of flying, everyone.

JetBlue, WestJet shrink legroom for coach seats [CNN]


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