A close friend has recently been on a flight of the 737-8, the latest to enter American Airlines service. She’s not really a travel journalist – more like a corporate fireman, flying from city to city extinguishing problems nobody else can. She flies at least twice a week all over the United States. In ten years she’s racked up 2,656 flights. This is someone who knows what it means to fly on business but almost always chooses economy for the simple fact she gets a significant bonus for not flying business or first.
I asked her to tell me what it was like being such an important new aircraft type. Make some notes I begged, and to my surprise she did.
“It looks really smart as you board, a little bland, though and it’s no match for the Delta 737-900’s that are my favourites. What really struck me first was how hard it was to get to my window seat. It’s like there’s no gap for even a 5ft 4 slim female to get through! Talk about inelegant!”
“I suppose I should mention the overhead – well lack of space is what you notice. There’s no way that there’s enough room for a carry-on for even half the passengers- did you say this was a new design? Who’s idea is this?”
“Once I got to my seat watching the man who sat next to me, almost 6ft tall, trying to sit without manspreading into my space, was almost funny. He had no choice in the end and I get that. There was no way he could sit legs together in that seat. He was embarrassed and it seemed very uncomfortable”.
“Half way through the flight the only way he could get out was to pull himself up on the seat in front, apologising the whole time”.
“There’s no inflight entertainment either, if you haven’t got work to do and want to watch something on a three hour flight, bring your own or go without. It’s not good enough in the 21st century”.
“There is a tray, but it’s so small you can’t get a 15″ MacBook Pro on it and open it far enough to tilt the screen backwards”.
“The seats are so thin that you get knees in your back from the person behind. After an hour I was feeling trapped. I couldn’t work, there was nothing to watch. The seat width is almost tight and I’m just a size 8 female, it seems ridiculous. It’s starting to dawn on me this isn’t a flight I want to be on”.
“Having disrupted the entire row to get out and go to the bathrooms, what can I say? They’re like a vertical coffin, not two feet wide, the basin is so small it’s almost impossible to wash your hands. The water splashed out on my clothes, I’m not amused. I can tell you as well that if you’re 6ft your head is on the ceiling.”
“Getting back to my seat becomes another lesson in personal confinement. I’m sick of it. The seat pitch is just 30″ according to Jon but I measured it at 29.5″. I couldn’t honestly measure the width as the man next to me was as much in my seat as I was”.
“I’m not happy on this flight. I feel trapped, I feel like I’m just a number, a human commodity, I don’t like it. I’ve never felt like this on Delta, or JetBlue and certainly not on the soon to be missed Virgin America”.
“I admit American isn’t my favourite airline, but this has made me seriously re-evaluate ever travelling on them again. And it won’t be economy. If this is Americans idea of their future standards, they can keep it. Aviation enthusiasts might find it really interesting- I felt like I was in a flying prison”.
Tania flew on N304RB from Miami to New York.