A recent article in the New York Times listed several interesting bits of information regarding the reasons for the downfall of service and amenities for coach class flyers — and it all comes down to money. United is saving $650,000 a year with the decision to do away with pretzel snack mixes for flights that are less than two hours long and Northwest reportedly saved $2 million a year when it stopped serving pretzels. American has estimated that it would save $30 million a year by eliminating free meal service in coach and has gone so far as to remove rear galleys from its MD-80 aircraft and replace them with four seats.
The amount of money the nine largest passenger airlines in the U.S. spend on food per passenger has gone down to $3.40 from $5.92 in 1992, according to the Department of Transportation. And if you’d like to escape your grumbling stomach with a nap, you can forget the use of a pillow. American has said it saved $300,000 when it removed pillows from its MD-80s in November 2004, and with further pillow removals has saved an additional $600,000. Coach passengers are the recipients of most of the cost savings and downgrades. The latest trend is seeing improved flight experiences for those up front — the article points out that United says that just eight percent of its customers, those paying to ride in first or business class, generate more than 36 percent of passenger revenue.