TODAY   |  June 17, 2013

American Airlines to add more economy seats

Already cramped airline seating is about to get a little tighter as American Airlines, which is merging with U.S. Airways, announces it plans to add more seats to the economy section. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> let's begin this half hour with the big squeeze on flights. leg and elbow room gets tighter and tighter. tom could sstello is at reagan international airport . what's the deal.

>> reporter: good morning. if you're traveling this summer you'll be interested in this. we're all checking our bags and sometimes to carry on a bag for a soda or snack, even to sit in an emergency exit row, well, now, things are likely to get even a little tighter. those romantic days of yester year flying are gone. it can feel more like a cattle call . now they're shrinking the leg room. american airlines will likely add more seats to economy seating.

>> i don't know how they can cram more seats in the planes.

>> reporter: the standard seat has 31 inches of leg room. but standard leg room has shrunk by three inches over the last 10 to 15 years.

>> in fact, over the last 50 years the average american is an inch taller, 24 pounds heavier and the airlines are cramming in more seats giving you less and less space.

>> reporter: american is only considering what many airlines have already done. installing thinner seats or moving rows closer together. united added six seats to 8319, and southwest added 6 seats to it's 737. spirit airlines uses the maximum number of light weight seats that the faa allows and they don't recline. a spokesperson says this allows us to offer lower fares and makes us more efficient.

>> we need more room for people my height. i'm almost 7 feet tall.

>> you can pay for extra leg room.

>> just buying a passage on an airplane is what we're getting. on a tin ka k in the sky and from that point on, add up all the fees.

>> reporter: yeah we mentioned that flights are flying full these days. if you're flying in july for the summer vacation you're probably going to pay the most because that's when most americans are traveling on vacation but don't forget to eventually calculate in the baggage fees, carry on fees, maybe the soda, everything else that go along to the final trip. it can add a lot to the price of the ticket. back to you.

>>> tom, thank you very much.

>> that's when you add the cocktails.

>> that's right. now you're in narrower aisle and narrower seats, if you get the center seat, that's going to be a real picnic.

>> it's an opportunity for closeness.

>> it is.

>> it won't cause more fights about the armrest.

>> one or two -- both.

>> even if you're in the center?

>> you pick one, not the other. the center person does not get both armrests. it doesn't mean you get both armrests.

>> wow.

>> i don't know.