So Spirit Airlines is apparently an unending source of interesting stories. After first announcing a plan to charge for carry-on bags. They are now ordering planes with “pre-reclined” seats (Spirit Airlines Installs ‘Pre-Reclined’ Seats, Apr 21, NPR Morning Edition). Pre-reclined is, of course, a euphemism for fixed in one position. The claim is that this will reduce costs in multiple ways:
These pre-reclined seats are actually fixed upright seats, which will allow Spirit to squeeze in more passengers and save on costs because non-reclining seats are cheaper. They’re no moving parts, less maintenance – all of which, a spokesperson says, leads to lower fares.
The new seats are also supposed to weigh less — all of which has the potential to lower costs.
So I am not sure that this all bad for customers. On short flights, I generally don’t recline my seat at all and would just as happy if the person in front of me couldn’t recline his seat back into my space. That said, this will certainly make the firm less attractive to some customers. Spirit seems to be counting on customers being focused first and foremost on price. For leisure travel that is likely true; as long as customers view all airplanes as cattle cars, there doesn’t seem to be much to lose from having the smelliest cattle car.