There’s something even worse than cattle class. Welcome to ‘economy minus’

truther October 15, 2014 1

PASSENGERS, you’d better brace yourselves for this news.

If you thought there couldn’t be anything worse than the cattle class we’re currently forced to endure, it’s time to think again.

Airlines are introducing us to a whole new level of flight hell, and it’s called “economy minus”.

There’s something even worse than cattle class

In a very hush-hush development, a major US airline is reportedly planning to introduce the new super-cramped section, according to the aviation website Runway Girl Network.

RGN spoke extensively and off the record with the airline at the recent APEX Expo in Anaheim, California. The front-to-back domestic US model mooted to us would comprise a premium cabin, enhanced economy, regular economy and ‘economy minus’ offering.

“The big economy change — which may well be a fishing expedition to provoke comment in the industry … would be truly groundbreaking if implemented.”

The “enhanced economy” section would have a seat pitch, which is the distance between your seat and the seat in front, of approximately 35-38 inches (88.9 — 96.5 centimetres). Regular economy would have a pitch of 76-78.7cm, and the new “economy minus” at under 76cm — the exact size is yet to be confirmed.


But many airlines have already morphed their economy sections into similar models, they’re just not advertising it. It’s undeniable that there are numerous airline seats which fall under the 76cm mark. Even Australian airlines offer seats that would be fit for an “economy minus” section; Jetstar offers just 71cm on some of its planes, and Tiger 72.5cm. Ouch.


That’s miniscule compared to the whopping 93.9cm of legroom United Airlines has on its 757-200 planes. And all these teensy seats go against recommendations from Boeing. The plane manufacturer released its “magic formula” for legroom in economy class in 2001, reportedly calling for a minimum of 81cm. The formula, hailed as the ultimate guide for legroom, was based on calculations of how many cubic centimetres of leg, rear-end and shoulder space it takes to create a “tolerable” experience for passengers.


Those were the days …


Get ready for a tight squeeze.

Get ready for a tight squeeze. Source: Getty Images




Essentially, what we’ve come to know as the premium offering of “economy plus” (which isn’t quite business class, but is less of a squeeze) is really just the equivalent of the economy class section from years ago (and that was bad enough). The airlines just don’t advertise the fact that seats are continuing to shrink, and the standard economy section we used to know is fading away.


In fact, these days airlines are stealing space from their economy passengers to make their premium flyers more comfortable. For example, last year JetBlue reduced legroom by an inch (2.5cm) per row in order to give their “economy plus” flyers extra space.


And while airlines are being very hush-hush about it all, passengers are noticing the difference.


Melinda Carlson wrote about the alleged space stealing problem on her review of her United Airlines experience on The airline has already gathered a reputation for having an unofficial “economy minus” section with legroom of just 78cm on some of its planes — 16cm less than its premium passengers get.


“We just ended a miserable flight. United’s ‘economy plus’ option, means that for a family not able to upgrade to that (to afford it), you are now put in the ‘economy minus’ seats — meaning the least leg room on any flight in our memory,” Carlson wrote. “It seems United gives the plus legroom to the economy plus, but then actually does subtract the legroom from the poor folks back in cattle class.”



This guy’s way lucky he had no seatmate:





What’s more, many airlines have miraculously been able to squeeze another seat into their economy rows. It’s the harsh reality that many end up sacrificing space from other seats to do so.

According to the Australian Business Traveller: “Reputable airlines like Air New Zealand, Emirates, KLM and Air France also squeeze in a fourth seat in the middle of their Boeing 777 planes.

“They charge the same as a regular economy seat for one that’s narrower than other airlines, making those flights ones to avoid in economy on the long haul.”

OK, these smaller “economy minus” seats may be fine for the super-slim among us, or for kids. As long as the price reflects the difference in space.

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One Comment »

  1. gary October 16, 2014 at 3:39 am - Reply

    I only go place I can drive.

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