Not only have the carriers cut back on routes, they're using cramped commuter planes like the 78-seat Bombardier CRJ-700 (one lavatory, limited space overhead and under the seat)."Capacity reduction is our key lever" said Delta's CEO during an earnings call. (Let's not forget that what's inconvenient for passengers is profitable for shareholders.) As part of this capacity adjustment, many of the regional jets are disappearing altogether. That means some smaller markets are out of luck. And how does all this translate in the cabin? From the NYT:
The businesswoman in the aisle seat had planned to read on the plane from Houston to Tucson last week, but the airline industry's new version of musical chairs imposed other priorities. A family of four boarded. As is increasingly the case, their assigned seats were not together and the plane, a United Express CRJ-700 regional jet with 66 seats, was nearly full. So a little girl, probably age 6, slid into the window seat next to the businesswoman. And because the child was chatty and a bit uneasy about traveling many rows away from her parents, the woman spent the two-and-a-half-hour flight not reading, but entertaining the girl with talk and word games. By the end of the flight, the girl was playing happily on the woman's iPad. When the flight landed in Tucson, my wife, who had been observing from a nearby seat, said to the woman, "I'll bet you didn't expect that." The reply came in four words, each punctuated with a period. "No. I. Did. Not."