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After passenger feedback, American Airlines gives an inch on seat space

American Airlines will increase the space between seats on its new planes after feedback from customers and team members, according to a memo sent to employees Tuesday.
American Airlines will increase the space between seats on its new planes after feedback from customers and team members, according to a memo sent to employees Tuesday. AP

American Airlines will increase the space between seats on its new planes after feedback from customers and team members, according to a memo sent to employees Tuesday.

The Boeing 737 MAX planes, which American will begin using this fall, will have a seat pitch of 30 inches in all main cabin rows instead of the planned 29 inches. Seat pitch is the distance measured from the back of one seat to the back of the seat in front.

The change comes a little more than a month after American said it would move to the 29-inch configuration on its new planes. The announcement spurred questions about whether competitors would follow suit or whether customers would push back.

“It is clear that today, airline customers feel increasingly frustrated by their experiences and less valued when they fly,” the memo reads. “We can be leaders in helping to turn around that perception, and that includes reviewing decisions that have significant impact on the flying experience.”

None of the airline’s current planes have a seat pitch of less than 30 inches, according to the company website.

The new 172-seat MAX planes will also include power at every seat, free movie and television streaming and large overhead bins, according to the memo. Customers will have the option to pay for fast satellite-based wireless internet that will enable streaming services such as Netflix and HBO.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is American’s second-largest hub, with 664 daily flights. In 2016, American flights made up 90 percent of the airport’s traffic.

Taylor Blatchford: 704-358-5354, @blatchfordtr

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