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Before You Go

For Sunday, August 3, 2014

By McClatchy News Services


Passengers pan U.S. airlines' seats

The nation's top airlines have focused lots of energy in recent years on padding their bottom lines. But a new survey suggests they should put more effort into padding their seats.

The seats on U.S. carriers were snubbed by the recent World Airline Awards, based on a survey of nearly 19 million fliers from around the globe by airline rating company SkyTrax. More than 245 airlines were ranked in dozens of categories, including best seats.

U.S. airlines were absent from the top 10 in almost every seat category, including best first-class and best economy-class seat. Airlines from Asia and the Middle East dominated those categories.

The only U.S. carrier ranked in the top 10 for best seats was Virgin America, which ranked second for best premium seat on a low-cost carrier.

"It doesn't surprise me that not one U.S.-based airline is on this list," Blake Hollman of Phoenix wrote on Facebook in response to the airline awards. "Their service is usually horrible and their planes are old and cramped."

Some airline experts don't put much credibility in surveys, saying travelers rank airlines with their spending.

"Surveys, in general, are silly," said Seth Kap­lan, managing partner of the trade publication Airline Weekly. "Don't listen to what people say. Watch what they do."

U.S. airlines say they expect their rankings to improve as a result of their investments in new planes and renovated interiors.

"We expect U.S. airlines customers will increasingly appreciate the enhancements," said Victoria Day, a spokes­woman for Airlines for America, a trade group for the nation's carriers. "These types of investments were not possible in the previous decade of massive financial losses and widespread bankruptcy."

Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times

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