At the start of April Spirit Airlines reached a new level of unbundling its airfares by becoming the first airlines to charge passengers for carry-on baggage. For many years Irish airline Ryanair had been commonly thought of as the epitome of Low-Cost-Carriers (LCC), but it seems that Ryanair is rapidly becoming eclipsed by Spirit Airlines in the United States, as Spirit Airlines seems to become “RyanAmerica.”
Ryanair has been installing non-reclining seats for year, with a somewhat tolerable 30-inch (76.2cm). Spirit Airlines has now chosen to install what it is calling “Pre-Reclined” seats, with a painfully cramped 28-inch (71.12cm) seat pitch.
For those of you not familiar with what seat pitch is, seat pitch is the distance between seats measured from the back of one seat to the back of the seat behind it. For a reference on what a ‘cramped’ seat pitch is, the seat pitch on many small regional jets is 31-inch (78.74cm)
While Spirit Airlines may use the term ‘Pre-Reclined” in reality, Spirit Airlines will be offering seats that are upright and won’t recline at all.
Spirit Airlines, like Ryanair, have chosen to install non-reclining seats for a multitude of reasons. Non-reclining seats have fewer parts, weigh less and cost less to install. Additionally seats that do not recline take up less space allowing an airline to potentially install more rows of seats, thus allowing them to sell more seats for passenger revenue.
So with all this new found negative publicity surrounding Spirit Airlines following the announcement it’ll charge for carry-on bags and be installing “pre-reclined seats” what are the ramifications for Spirit Airlines? Well it seems their bookings over the past few weeks have increased by 50%.
Passengers complain about airlines unbundling airfares and complain about how uncomfortable airline seats are, but in the end, all that matters to the majority of passengers is the lowest fare upfront.
Upfront low fares often result in passengers spending more than they bargained for in the long run.
Ultimately, low cost carriers are turning a profit and the race to the bottom for passenger comfort and services leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of those who continue to patronize the airlines they continue to complain about.