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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013

Airlines hurting your health to make more profit?

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


Smaller seats on airplanes mean more profit for the airlines, but are the seats harming your health?

The nation's airlines are now putting passengers in what I like to call "crunch class," which refers to any of the new ultra-thin seats popping up on planes. If you don't have a lot of meat on your bones, you sit on those seats and you really feel the structure of the seat. They are lighter to save fuel and boost passenger headcount.

Southwest, for example, has always bragged they gave you more room than other airlines. Using these squeeze seats, they can go from 137 passengers to 143. That's 6 extra seats on every flight. It's like the equivalent of running extra airplanes during the day, when you count the passengers! But for any of us in coach, it's a real squeeze play.

Research shows that 90% of flyers only care about the price of the seat, not how comfortable it is or isn't. But what about that other 10%? We're seeing a lot of differentiation in the level of service where premium price passengers will get more creature comforts and even go through a different jetway than those in peasant class. So this small percentage of passengers represent 30% of the revenue.

If you are in peasant class, be sure to avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is the equivalent of a blood clot that can kill you. Some doctors are anecdotally calling it "economy class syndrome."

To avoid DVT, I want you to skip the alcohol -- even if you are a nervous flyer. And drink enough water to get up to go to the bathroom and get your body moving. If you don't have to use the restroom, get up and walk around as much as you can, even though I know the space is tight. 

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