Class Conflict

Expanded business class seating puts the squeeze on economy-class passengers.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the July 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Airlines such as US Airways, TWA and Lufthansa have been giving their planes' front seating sections facelifts to draw business travelers.

But there's a downside to the improvements: Airlines adding legroom to their first-class sections may squeeze economy-class seats closer together to make space. That's what happened when TWA enlarged its Trans World First cabin from 12 seats to 20.

"The temptation to make economy class more narrow is enormous," says Vince Vitti, president of corporate travel agency VTS Travel Enterprises Inc. in New York City. "But if you put in one more row, everyone winds up with their knees in their noses."

US Airways removed a row of economy-class seats when it introduced its new Envoy Class to Europe, but the remaining economy-class seats weren't moved closer together in the process.

TWA's economy-class seats used to be the roomiest in the business, until it expanded its forward cabins. For its part, TWA is unapologetic for putting the squeeze on passengers. According to Jim Brown of TWA, the extra space was moved to the forward cabins because airline officials realized they had been giving economy-class passengers additional legroom free of charge.

Christopher Elliott is a writer in Los Angeles and a columnist for "ABC News Online."

Road Notes

  • Priority Club and Crowne Plaza Preferred frequent guest programs have been merged into a new program called Priority Club Worldwide. The revamped rewards program is available to guests of Bass Hotels and Resorts and offers new Priority Club Gold and Platinum programs and priority check-in service. Call (800) 272-9273.
  • The Hotel Vintage Park in Seattle has installed in-room Internet access with connection speeds up to 50 times faster than traditional data ports and dial-up modems. The service is available at no additional cost to hotel guests. Call (800) 624-4433.
  • US Airways rolled out a simplified fare structure when its new regional MetroJet service debuted last month with flights between Baltimore and the following cities: Cleveland; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Providence, Rhode Island. A last-minute ticket between Baltimore and Manchester now costs $65 each way, and there are no service charges for changes to nonrefundable fares. The new fare structure is scheduled to be extended this month to include flights from Baltimore to Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa, Florida. For information, call (888) METRO-JET.

Contact Sources

Hotel Vintage Park in Seattle, 1100 Fifth Ave., Seattle, WA 98101

Novotel New York Hotel, 226 W. 52nd St., New York, NY 10019-5804, (212) 315-0100

Pegasus Inc., (214) 528-5656,

Personal Growth Productions Inc., (888) MARS-VENUS

US Airways,

VTS Travel Enterprises Inc.,

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