This week's Middle Seat focused on the new Boeing 787, a plane with wide coach seats arranged in rows of eight. Boeing thought that gave airlines the chance to extract higher fares for more comfort. But 75% of airlines that have ordered the jet are now opting to add a ninth seat to each coach row, reducing fanny space to just 17 inches for long trips across oceans.
While those airlines don't believe coach customers would pay more for increased comfort, Middle Seat readers say that's not true. Particularly on long flights, airline passengers say they will put their money where their wallet is.
Some readers do say that while they are willing to pay more for extra space, they probably wouldn't pay much more. If an airline pondering 787 seating goes with rows of eight instead of nine, it gives up 12% of its coach seating and therefore needs to get at least 12% more revenue, right? On a $1,000 ticket to Europe, that's another $120. That looks like a reasonable price many of us would pay, but when the computer display says one airline's fare is $1,000 and another's is $1,120, we instinctively go for the savings.
A couple of observations: The people who read this column are probably seasoned road warriors, and not backpacking, granola-crunching, budget travelers.
Watch what people do; not what they say. Most people don't like to view themselves as being cheapskates, but they often say one thing in response to a theoritical question and do another when it comes time to put out real money.