Skip to content

United CEO Says Seat Pitch Likely Can't Get Any Smaller

April 24, 2019
2 min read
United CEO Says Seat Pitch Likely Can't Get Any Smaller
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Everyone who's flown on an airplane in recent years knows that if you're in coach, you're likely not going to be enjoying the flying experience.

And in a world full of devaluations and passenger experience cuts that are explained by "we're just responding to customer requests" — we heard a surprisingly candid and honest response from United CEO Oscar Munoz that appears to acknowledge that the flying experience has become more stressful and uncomfortable.

Munoz's comments come from a recent interview with ABC News, where the CEO riffed on the state of the airline industry.

"Seats keep on getting smaller. Has that stopped? Have we reached the smallest we're going to get?" asked David Kerley, ABC's senior transportation correspondent.

"I think we're nearing a point certainly that we can't do that anymore," Munoz responded.

While Munoz didn't say anything about increasing pitch on United aircraft (the airline's been slowing putting more seats on aircraft) it's good to hear he at least recognizes there's an issue.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Seat pitch certainly isn't the only thing customers complain about. Munoz said the entire flying process is quite stressful from getting to the airport itself and going through the TSA.

"Frankly by the time you sit in one of our aircraft and one of our seats, you're just pissed at the world," said Munoz "And I don't care what coffee or cookie or smile I give you."

As fares drop lower and lower (i.e. basic economy) and airlines consistently match each other on price, it becomes more apparent that carriers will have to start competing on service.

"The competition is less about price discounts and more about the experience and the service, and I think at the end of the day it's better for the customer," said Munoz.

Improving the airline's spotty WiFi situation is another priority for Munoz, who's managing four different internet providers on different aircraft.

"We will fix that," said Munoz. "Frankly we would stop a lot of our growth if we could just stop and find the right provider and get that done. That's how important WiFi is to us."

Featured Image by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers