Dear SAA and Qantas*

Being the only two airlines I have flown on- and I haven’t flown much- I can’t really address my letter to airlines in general… although I’m sure your economy class is a fair enough reflection on your competitors.


I would like to bring to your attention that flying cattle class (or economy class, as you call it) is far from a pleasant experience.

Simply fitting in the seats is all but impossible! I’m not small- but I’m pretty much an average size South African woman. The seats are a tight squeeze for me- and the fact that I cannot get into the aisle without major physical exertion- especially if the seat in front of me is reclined- simply demonstrates to me that you are squishing more people onto these planes than is actually comfortable. Could the seats not at least be the size of a car seat!!?


On the SAA flights, I was on small planes- with only one aisle- and on one of the flights I was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me. We got pretty passable food on the plane, and the stewards were always polite and well turned out. The flights were smooth and the toilets were mostly vacant. Even so, the rows are unbelievably close together, and if you’re in a window seat- everyone has to get up and move if you want out.

On the Qantas flight, we were on a Boeing 747-400. This means 2 aisles and 10 seats in a row, three seats at each window and four seats in the middle of the plane. The plane holds 416 people (if it has 1st, business and economy class like ours did), and it has 8 toilets for the economy class passengers. Flying to Oz I had a window seat and my sweetheart was next to me. Luckily we had no one behind us as we were in front of the emergency door- but the plane was full. This meant my Glugs and the guy next to him had to get up and move into the aisle when I wanted to go to the loo. And while seated, I had to learn to do everything with my left hand since my other arm was under my Glugs’ left arm and his right hand would have been in his neighbour’s way. On a 12 hour flight- where your sleeping tablets don’t do shite for you- this gets more than a little irksome.

Coming home we again had no one behind us as we were right in front of the galley, but this time we were in the middle of the middle row. This may not have been the end of the world… BUT, I had gastro- and had to ask the guy next to me to wake up and move AND then climb over the seats to get to the aisle because the seats in front of me were reclined for pretty much the entire flight and I couldn’t simply get up and move sideways! Lemme tell you- when you have to do this every 30 minutes or so… you become acutely aware of how little space you actually have!

And I used every single one of the 8 toilets available to me on the plane during the 14 hour flight home.

Thankfully the young guy who drew the short straw in terms of seat allocation and ended up next to me coming home was infinitely patient, and I could bribe him with the unused milk on my meal trays and the sweets I’d brought on board with me!

And then Qantas’ built in individual entertainment system- which is supposed to have a selection of some 200 movies, over 100 TV programs, games, CDs and and and- didn’t work going to Oz or coming home!

The Qantas flights were smooth, the attendants polite and available and the food pretty good- and despite delays at OR Tambo pretty much on time- so I have got to congratulate them on those fronts.


But what am I getting at here? Well, my question to both these airlines is this.


Is it really necessary, for profit sake, to fit that many people on an airplane? Is it not remotely possible to remove a few rows of seats and give your passengers some space, and STILL make money off of them?


*I’m taking a leaf out of Ruby’s book here


…come play on my rollercoaster…

10 thoughts on “Dear SAA and Qantas*

  1. I’m tall 6’4 and flying is a Nightmare my knees touch the chair in front and when people insist that the chair reclines and bang on it cause my knees are stopping the process, it becomes a very painful.
    I feel your pain

  2. I think all the planes europe/us or SA are the same. I am not small and neither is Grumpy and I do feel bad for the people that may share the seats with us. I am on planes every week and if i am flying alone i always sit on the window – i wont get up if i can help it. I am lucky that i can sleep any were so on transatlantic flights i just pass out. Since there is rarely entertainment on my in country flights I just make sure to have books with my

  3. Just driven 26 hours from Cape Town to Bloemfontein to Port Elizabeth and back in 3 days. 2606km of nothing to do but stare out of the windows and contemplate just two business meetings!! I am now quite prepared to accept somebody sitting on my lap if it means I can get there a whole heap faster!!!!

  4. I had sleepless nights when we flew to Israel, I am BEEEEG and I had no idea how I was going to manage. We got lucky, the seat between myself and my hubby was open and all I landed up with was really sore knees from them being squished up against the seats.

    Coming back I decided to take the bull by the horns and I asked them if the plan was full, when she said no I smiled and asked her to have mercy on my poor husband and pointed out the size of my ample arse.

    She quickly blocked out the seat between us again.
    .-= Colleen´s last blog ..Day 16 of 365 – Miss Muppet stole my heart =-.

  5. Best thing to do is to check in (very) early and ensure that you get the seats in the emergency exit row – that little extra leg room makes the flight all that more bearable!
    .-= AH´s last blog ..Me! =-.

  6. I’m 1.63m tall and weigh 52kg and I never have enough space, I can’t imagine how taller/bigger people feel, been on about 24 overseas flights which were over 10 hours and countless local flights, it’s just something you have to get used to and before you know it, its over 🙂 when I book I specifically choose a plane that has individual enterntainment systems even if it means flying a day earlier or later or paying more, it makes it bearable for me .
    Or you could just fly business class, thats what my parents do but they still complain which is annoying because its much better.

    But yeah I think you just have to get used to it because airlines definitely wont change the seating.

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