Discomfort on the way

In yet another push for passenger discomfort, Boeing announced Monday that it will produce a versions of its 737-MAX 8 that will seat up to 200 passengers.

An additional 11 passengers will be squeezed into the airliner by cropping another 2 inches of legroom from each row. Passengers will see a mere 29 inches between rows instead of the current roomy 31 inches.

While Boeing doesn’t yet have any orders for the just-announced High Density version of the 737, a story in USA Today said the plane was built to satisfy the needs of discount carriers to get as many customers as possible on every flight.

The story mentioned specifically European discount carrier Ryanair as a potential customer for the plane. Mind you, this is the same airline that we wrote about a couple of years back that was toying with the idea of charging for use of the restrooms on its planes.

USA Today said that most United States and European airlines that order the high-density version will outfit it with 199 seats instead of 200. That’s because safety regulations require one more crew member if the plane seats 200 or more passengers.

Ah, it’s a delicate balance when the airlines are considering revenue versus comfort versus safety.

The story said that Boeing rival Airbus is doing much the same thing – trying to squeeze more seats into its A320 family of aircraft.

The first non-high-density version of the 737-MAX 8 will make its debut in 2017 at Southwest Airlines. That will seat a paltry 189 passengers, apparently.

Its tighter-packed brother will probably make its debut shortly thereafter. Soon instead of a jetway, airlines will be using the key from a sardine can to disgorge passengers from the stuffed bellies of their planes.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.