Boeing's New Plane Is Your Flying Nightmare (And Airlines' Profit Dream)

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Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

You’ve likely noticed that air travel hasn’t become more pleasant.

Seats have become tighter. Nerves have, too.

Passengers are being squeezed, as airlines grab as much profit as they possibly can.

Please don’t worry, though. It’s going to get worse.

Here, you see, is the Boeing 737 MAX 10.

It’s longer. It’s thinner. It’s a little bit more fuel-efficient. Which means you’ll be able to fly further in a plane that’s garlanded with more seats than ever.

You’ll think me a touch life-addled. I will quote you from Boeing’s own website: “THINK UNRIVALED PROFITS WITH 737 MAX 10.”

Yes, it’s all in capital letters so that you don’t miss it. This plane was designed specifically so that airlines could make (even more) obscene profits.

Boeing boasts that the 737 Max 10 offers: “the lowest seat costs ever.”

It also crows that this plane offers “the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market.”

There it is. Passenger comfort. You’ll be relieved.

Well now.

The original Boeing 737 was 94 feet long. This Max 10 is 143 feet 8 inches long. Just imagine how long it’ll take you to get to your seat at the back.

The length of this plane, of course, tempts airlines to shove as many as 230 seats inside.

Which means that the seat pitch (the distance between the back of the seat in front of you and your seat) might get reduced to a mere 28 inches. (That’s as tight as a Spirit Airline A320)

This, in airline parlance, is called “densification.” Or in the words of American Airlines’ CEO Doug Parker: “narrow-body density opportunities.”

Oh, you might grunt, you can put up with a narrow seat and no space for an hour or two.

I believe you. But the 737 Max 10 is designed to fly 3,235 miles. Think of that as around a six-hour flight.

How do your innards feel now?

What about Boeing’s boast that this plane offers the highest passenger comfort? Well, the designers are fooling you by making the windows 20 percent bigger and redesigning the ceiling and the overhead lockers to make you think there’s more space.

It’s true that American Airlines is having second thoughts about squeezing in as many seats as possible into every plane it owns.

But when push comes to shove, airlines will shove you into seats that will push you toward despair.

“Unrivaled profits await,” croons Boeing’s sales video. It’s the “the most profitable single-aisle ever.”

You’re really excited now. Aren’t you?

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