Now that the U.S. Senate has defeated the airplane legroom amendment, airlines are breathing a big sigh of relief.
In fact, according to several industry insiders — who all spoke only on condition of anonymity — their next move is to take away headroom. While the ceiling is normally 6′ above the floor on jets like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, the airlines are considering a move to reduce the vertical clearance to 4.5′ above the floor. For an additional fee — ranging from $35-$300 depending on the airline and length of flight — passengers can upgrade to ‘Economy Plus Plus’ which offers the same legroom and headroom we had in the 1980s, plus the same crappy airline service we’ve come to expect for the last two decades.
Some airlines were also reportedly looking into having chiropractors available in the terminals at select destinations to straighten out the spines of taller passengers who did not have First Class or ‘Economy Plus Plus’ tickets. This appears doubtful, however, as the Obama administration has already signaled that the airlines would not be able to use Obamacare dollars to pay for it.
When asked how the new headroom standards are fair to taller passengers, the President of the Airlines for America (A4A) said, “It’s totally fair. I mean, whether you are a 7’5 tall NBA player or a 4’2 little person, we are charging the same fee.”
He continued, “Bernie Sanders likes to talk about income inequality. Well, we at the A4A are proud to announce that we are firm supporters of ‘height equality’ when it comes to nickle-and-diming passengers, er, I mean offering additional services in today’s competitive air travel environment.”
If all goes well, several industry observers have speculated about what could be next. Among the ideas discussed:
- removal of arm rests and cushions;
- ‘greener’ climate control seating (read: no heating or air conditioning, even if it is 100 degrees on the Tarmac or -31 degrees at 30,000 feet); and even
- ‘cargo class.’ The airlines already treat us like cargo, so it seems like it is only a matter of time before they start shipping passengers as cargo in the baggage compartment of the airplane.