AA has ditched plans to slash legroom to 29 inches, but is pushing ahead with a 30-inch seat pitch / AFP/Getty Images

AA have abandoned plans for a 29-inch seat pitch, but are going ahead with 30 inches on new fleet

American Airlines has abandoned plans to slash legroom to less than that of Ryanair, just six weeks after announcing them.

In a memo to employees seen by Skift, the airline acknowledged that the move would have made a “significant impact on the flying experience.”

The memo reads: “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.”

However, the airline is planning to go ahead with a general shrinkage, which will put AA on a par with Europe’s biggest budget airline. 

AA had planed to squeeze three rows with 29-inch seat pitch in its new 737 Max jetliner fleet. The other rows in economy would have had a 30-inch pitch – an inch less than its current fleet. AA had said there were no plans to charge differently according to legroom.

But the move – which would have put AA on a par with America’s much maligned Spirit Airlines – sparked outrage amongst frequent flyers. 

Instead, American will have a 30-inch seat pitch for all its seats on the new plane – making it on a par with Ryanair. The difference will be made up by losing a row of Main Cabin Extra, its upgraded economy service. Plans are now being made to roll out the seating across the AA fleet.

The airline says that by making “efficient use of the space available” the 30-inch pitch will “feel more like today’s 31 inches”. According to Skift, it is now considering rolling out the seating to its Boeing 737s, of which it has a 300-strong fleet.