DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – For many passengers sitting in coach, there’s a simple truth.
Berkay Ozdegirmenci, who flies twice a month for business says, “They’re a little crowded.”
Passenger Troy Burgess agrees. “They’re not great, but that’s what you expect when you get on an airline.”
During the past several weeks, airline pilots diverted three flights after passengers got into fights over reclining seats.
In one case, a passenger used a device called “Knee Defender,” preventing the passenger in front from reclining.
Ozdegirmenci says, “It should be banned.”
Burgess says, “I don’t think it’s fair that you can introduce a product that restricts the movement of the person in front of you.”
Most, if not all airlines don’t allow devices like the knee defender.
The FAA doesn’t ban these and other devices, but discourages their use.
A variety of airlines have recently added seats in their main cabins to boost revenues.
CBS 11’s Jack Fink asked Dallas-based Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly about devices like Knee Defender and whether the airlines themselves bare any responsibility because they’re adding seats on planes.
Kelly told me, “You know, that’s a fair question. I’ll just admit to you I haven’t given it a lot of thought, but it something worthy of thought.”
Starting two years ago, Southwest says it added a row of six seats on many of its 737’s.
Kelly says he opposes the idea of restricting the seats’ movement because the seats are meant to recline. “We do try to provide all our customers the ability to recline their seats. You’d like every customer be able to take advantage of that.”
American Airlines is in the process of adding seats on its 737’s and some of its widebody 777’s.
But a spokesman says they are not changing seat pitch or legroom.
Kelly Skyles is the chair of national safety and security for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, representing American’s and US Airways’ flight attendants.
She says, “We all want our company to be profitable.”
But Skyles says the airlines can’t forget their customers’ comfort. “I do hold the airlines accountable because they’ve created this.”
She says passengers need to be considerate of each other.
If not, it’s the flight attendants who must act as referees. “It’s definitely a concern. We’ve trained every year through our reoccurring training how to diffuse situations, diffuse conflicts, so we’re very capable of that, but sometimes you get individuals that just want to listen.”
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