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American Airlines to squeeze more seats into its cabins

June 16, 2013|By Hugo Martin
  • An American Airlines jet
An American Airlines jet (American Airlines )

The squeeze continues.

Joining several other airlines that have packed their cabins with extra seats, American Airlines said it plans to follow suit on its Boeing 737 and MD-80 planes, which make up more than 60% of the fleet.

The airline, which expects to emerge from bankruptcy and merge with US Airways in the next few months, said it has yet to decide how many seats it would add.

“Although we expect to add seats to the 737 and MD-80 fleets, we are evaluating the right number of seats and the impact on revenue and cost while retaining our Main Cabin Extra product,” the airline said in a statement.

Quiz: What can't you take onboard a jetliner?

One consideration is that by adding seats, American may be required to add an extra flight attendant on each flight to meet a Federal Aviation Administration rule requiring one attendant for every 50 seats.

If this sounds like deja vu, it’s because American announced plans last year to install 10 extra seats on its Boeing 777s to make room for lie-flat seats in business class. The airline said it will begin to add those seats next year.

American is not unique in trying to squeeze more revenue out of each plane.

Alaska, JetBlue, Southwest and Spirit airlines have installed seats with thinner back cushions, allowing the carriers to squeeze in more seats per cabin. Spirit, for example, packs 178 seats on an Airbus 320, while United Airlines puts 138 seats on the same aircraft model.

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