Want more legroom? Airlines say you get what you pay for

American Airlines says most passengers get what they pay for. Photo: American Airlines.

American Airlines says most passengers get what they pay for. Photo: American Airlines.

Airlines have a message for you. You get what you pay for. 

This was a theme at a conference I attended recently in Scottsdale, Arizona. Executives made it clear that most passengers want low fares and little else. 

"By and large, airlines deliver a product that the customers are saying they want," said Scott Wilson, vice president of eCommerce & Merchandising at United Airlines. "It seems contradictory. But until they actually vote with their wallet, airlines have to respond to what customers say they will do."

American Airlines President Scott Kirby said almost the same thing. He said it is no surprise that Spirit Airlines, which puts more seats on its aircraft than any other U.S airline, also has some of the largest profit margins.

"The more seat density, the higher the profit margins," Kirby said. "That says more than anything what customers are actually willing to pay for."