Delta doesn’t owe me any more legroom

I have traveled so much in the last few months that I am recognized at the Delta check-in counter at Birmingham Airport. This trip has given me ample time to think about what airlines owe their customers. When airlines periodically try to charge from extremely obese passengers for two seats, I have some notes that I made a few years ago when there was similar dust about leg room (or lack thereof) for tall passengers. As a tall guy (about 6’5 ”), I know the discomfort of sharing rows with other big passengers. Not so Offensive They push us into that tiny seat to increase their profits? Don’t airlines pay for our comfortable travel?

No and no. It is clear when we ask which airlines should leave. It may seem rude to write, “Big passengers who value comfort Can Pay for first class or ‘comfort’ seats. We don’t To like However, be this way. Why Should Bigger and longer salaries are higher, especially when we are on the path with no fault of our own?

The answer is quite simple: it costs more to serve larger and taller passengers. This is not because we ask for a refill in coffee (which I do), or because we take too many snacks. We spend more because we take up more space. An obese passenger falls into the next seat so much that no one can sit there. I don’t see how fair it is for employees and shareholders who rely on the prosperity of airlines for income. A single obese passenger takes two seats for which passengers have to pay $ 500 each at a cost of $ 1,000 — which is the airline’s income from selling tickets to someone else. This may be an injustice in a cosmic sense, but it is not clear why this is a problem for other passengers.

The same is true of the legroom. Airlines can offer more legroom, but if they do, they will have fewer seats per flight. The revenue they have to sacrifice to provide more comfortable seats is the cost of accommodating longer passengers. But again, it’s not clear why my height (and circumference, to be honest) is the responsibility of California teachers whose pension funds may own Delta Stock. Should they retire with less profit and less comfort because I want more legroom?

Let’s go back to “pay for it if you want it” because it explains how people respect each other’s preferences in the free market. Airlines offer more legrooms and spacious seats for those willing to pay for them. But again and again we passengers express through our choice that we are not willing. If I wanted to assure myself a lot of space, I could do so by booking a seat in first class or in Comfort +. Although I don’t usually do that. Instead, I pay basic economy rent and basically enter a lottery where, since I regularly fly Delta, I occasionally jump into Comfort + or First Class. I Can Pay for a guaranteed legroom, but I’m usually unwilling. I giggle when I fold myself into a small seat without a legroom next to someone my size. I reminded myself that I could pay a little extra to be more comfortable but decided that I would prefer other things instead.

Why is it easier when travel is not more comfortable? Easy: Passengers are not willing to pay for it. By offering larger seats and more legroom, airlines are basically asking if we are willing to cover the cost of providing extra comfort. When we choose cheap, less comfortable economy class seats, we say “No, thank you.”

Art Cardin

Art Cardin

Art Cardin is a Senior Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research. He is also an Associate Professor of Economics at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama and a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.

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