American Reverses Plan to Cut an Inch of Legroom — in Three Rows

SEATTLE (CNNMoney) — American Airlines has nixed its plans to cut legroom in three rows on its new Boeing 737 Max jets.

In May, the airline said that in order to add more seats to its new jet, it would shrink the distance between seats from 31 inches to 29 inches on three rows of the airplane, and down to 30 inches in the rest of its main economy cabin.

The airline told employees in an internal message that it has scrapped plans to have three tighter rows. Instead, all the seats in its main economy class cabin will be separated by 30 inches of space, down from 31 inches.

“It is clear that today, airline customers feel increasingly frustrated by their experiences and less valued when they fly. We can be leaders in helping to turn around that perception, and that includes reviewing decisions that have significant impact on the flying experience,” American said in an internal message.

The shift is an unusual about face for the airline industry, which has been steadily adding seats on jets at the expense of legroom.

American claims its new seats are lighter and more comfortable than an older generation, and that the 30-inch seats will feel like 31 inch seats to customers.

“Designing aircraft interiors is an art and a science. It requires us to take into account customer experience, revenue, and other considerations,” said American President Robert Isom. “This is the right call for customers and the right call for our team members who take care of them.”