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Old 07-26-2015, 06:15 AM   #1
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Flying Coach CAN get worse!

The Flying Tortoise: Airlines Take Lessons From Sardine Companies On How To Pack Em In...
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Old 07-26-2015, 09:07 AM   #2
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I heard something about that on the radio the other day, but hadn't seen the design.
As much as I used to love it, the more aviation changes, the more alternative transportation becomes appealing.
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Old 07-26-2015, 12:59 PM   #3
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Yes, so we trade being packed in rows of three for having someone in a reversed seat looking and talking directly at us. I hate commercial flying. It's a situation where you're in reduced oxygen, packed into space with strangers, in a germ filled room, with restrooms that make the heads on the smallest trawlers look like sheer luxury.

The continue to pack more and more seats. Years ago we flew all our employees First Class on any trip over 6 hours, then reduced it to 4 hours. Finally where available we flew all employees Business Class. Then we faced the challenge of those who because of size couldn't fit on coach and some planes had no business. What about people over 6' tall or men over 220 lbs, women over 160 lbs? Well, we thought about upgrading them, but then unfair to others, so finally we changed again and flew all employees first class when available. Anytime we had 4 or more employees flying together we tried to use a company plane or charter.

Then it's the flights with only one class. I'm 6'4"+ (6'6" with shoes but obviously must take them off) and last year was on a flight with only coach. It was too tight for my wife who is 5'9" (up to 6' or more with shoes). We crossed our legs with each other to get leg room. Can't do that with strangers.

I only wish they'd just provide adequate space and then charge everyone in a section the same amount, whatever was justified by cost of operating and a reasonable return. I hate that buying an airline ticket is like playing "Let's Make a Deal."

Ok. End of airline rant. I heard long ago in ancient times flying commercial planes was actually pleasant.
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Old 07-26-2015, 01:07 PM   #4
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I heard something about that on the radio the other day, but hadn't seen the design.
As much as I used to love it, the more aviation changes, the more alternative transportation becomes appealing.
Wifey B: We only fly to get to or from a boat. We don't even fly from Florida to NC.

Oh here's an example of how we rate them...

Bad. Fort Lauderdale to Myrtle Beach, SC by plane. 1 hr 40 min.

Better. Fort Lauderdale to Myrtle Beach by auto. 9 hr. 43 min.

Best by far. Fort Lauderdale to Myrtle Beach by boat. At 8 knots, 60 hr. at 12 knots 40 hrs., at 20 knots 24 hrs., at 35 knots 14 hrs.

I didn't add in train...27 hours. yep....that's it.
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Old 07-26-2015, 01:58 PM   #5
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The tradeoff is time. If i want to get somewhere i want to get there. I don't want to screw around driving or taking a train or a bus. We go to the UK a lot. It takes 9 hours. It took Capt. Vancouver 14 months. If you do the (rough) math the jet transport has cut 10,071 hours off the jouney. (I produced a film about exactly that: 10,071 Hours: How Everett Changed the World.)

I would much rather sit in a cramped seat for a few hours reading a book, writing, or watching a movie than spending days, weeks, or months getting somewhere.

When i started flying as a little kid between Hawaii and the mainland the seats were comfortable, the food was good, and the planes were slow. Today unless one is in the front of the plane flying is like riding a glorified subway. But at the end of a very few number of hours, you're on the other side of the planet. I still find that very, very cool.

Economics and the desire of people to fly for as close to free as possible have turned flying (for most passengers) into a commodity. Given the rapid rise in the number of passengers woldwide and the staggering demand for air transportation-- we are now turning out 42 737s a month, the target is 60, and Airbus is doing the same thing with their A320 family-- it's obvious that people will put up with just about anything in order to get there as quickly as possibe as cheaply as possible.

Crowded airplanes are not so bad; the flight is over in a few hours. What has really made flying a miserable experience no matter where one sits in the plane and particularly in the US, is the airport experience at either end.
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Old 07-26-2015, 02:16 PM   #6
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WifeyB, I'm 100% with you on that!
Our son now lives in N.C. and we're planning a trip up in September. The only way we'd fly is if it were an emergency!

We're driving up and making it a road trip, stopping in St. Simons, Charleston, kitty hawk, and a few other port/historical places along the way. On the way back we hope to hit the outer banks.

Just a relaxing drive, not overzealous TSA Types, overbearing flight attendants (not a dis to all of them. Had some great ones the last few flights), and nobody to tell me I can't hit the head when I want to!

In an emergency, or if I'm time crunched, then I'll suck it up and fly.
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Old 07-26-2015, 02:34 PM   #7
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Marin,

Your point is well taken, and if time is of the essence, then of course I'll put up with the BS and fly.

Other than that, it's more about the journey than the destination to me.

We want to do a trip to England, and while I'd rather cruise, we'll probably fly for expediency sake.
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Old 07-26-2015, 02:46 PM   #8
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...I'm 6'4"+ (6'6" with shoes...
Dang dude!
You a big mofo ain't cha? Lol


Quote:
... I heard long ago in ancient times flying commercial planes was actually pleasant.
Yea, it used ta be...
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Old 07-26-2015, 04:02 PM   #9
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Dang dude!
You a big mofo ain't cha? Lol




Yea, it used ta be...
Not big...just tall. Funny thing was I always loved basketball but all through school was too short. Didn't get the height until college. Because I grew up short, I never really thought of myself as tall. Plus a lot of my height is in my legs so airplane is really a problem.
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Old 07-26-2015, 05:39 PM   #10
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Not big...just tall. Funny thing was I always loved basketball but all through school was too short. Didn't get the height until college. Because I grew up short, I never really thought of myself as tall. Plus a lot of my height is in my legs so airplane is really a problem.
LOL- That's what I meant
Hell, at 5'8", everybody is tall!
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Old 07-27-2015, 07:53 AM   #11
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I have to say we as a society have done this to ourselves. People don't realize how much it cost to run an aeroplane. From the smallest commuter to international long haul wide bodies the majority of people want to fly as cheaply as they can. With competition in the airline industry so fierce the only way the airlines are going to compete is to squeeze as many seats in as possible. Add to that a security system that grown a life of its own things aren't going to change unless the airline system becomes re-regulated. In other words its never going to get better.
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Old 07-27-2015, 08:42 AM   #12
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I have to say we as a society have done this to ourselves. People don't realize how much it cost to run an aeroplane. From the smallest commuter to international long haul wide bodies the majority of people want to fly as cheaply as they can. With competition in the airline industry so fierce the only way the airlines are going to compete is to squeeze as many seats in as possible. Add to that a security system that grown a life of its own things aren't going to change unless the airline system becomes re-regulated. In other words its never going to get better.
Well, American just reported the most profitable quarter in their history due to reduced fuel costs. $1.9 Billion.
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Old 07-27-2015, 08:51 AM   #13
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Well, American just reported the most profitable quarter in their history due to reduced fuel costs. $1.9 Billion.
Yes but have a look at the profits over a number of years, the turn over to make that profit and the return on investment. Fuel will eventually go back up, there is only so much of it after all and we should have priority of it for our boats.
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Old 07-27-2015, 09:08 AM   #14
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Yes but have a look at the profits over a number of years, the turn over to make that profit and the return on investment. Fuel will eventually go back up, there is only so much of it after all and we should have priority of it for our boats.
Well, they are just now really studying the effects of space travel on astronauts, but to anyone who saw what Frank Borman did to the airline industry with his time running Eastern Airlines, they would have known it had to cause severe problems. How else could you account for what was done? Seriously, it's that long ago that being largest became the single goal and only those who went against that like Southwest have been successful on a regular basis.

Everything about their pricing model is crazy. This morning the persons sitting a couple of seats over from us probably paid triple what we paid for the same seat.
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Old 07-27-2015, 07:18 PM   #15
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The really good old days were before my time. I recall the company Chairman telling me, quite a few years ago, about his early flights from London to Australia. It took a number of days I forget how many, and they landed each day to stay in a hotel overnight. In the cabin they sat in lounge chairs from a quality manufacturer. I am guessing these were flying boats because the blight called 'the airport' had not really been invented yet.

I would have loved to experience travel like that, but probably could not have afforded the fare!

Now its in the order of 24 hours to London or other EU destinations, with legs that can be 14 hours or so. When I was working fulltime we traveled business, often got upgraded and were able to deal with it without much trouble. When I retired and started some consulting it was with companies where everyone flew coach. You learn to zone out and get through it, but it does catch up with you. And the 'airport experience' has gotten a lot worse despite teh benefits of the 'club lounges'. One month I did two Australia - Europe return flights. Never again, serious airport/cabin fever with that much dead/sardine time.
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Old 07-27-2015, 09:10 PM   #16
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The really good old days were before my time. I recall the company Chairman telling me, quite a few years ago, about his early flights from London to Australia. It took a number of days I forget how many, and they landed each day to stay in a hotel overnight. In the cabin they sat in lounge chairs from a quality manufacturer. I am guessing these were flying boats because the blight called 'the airport' had not really been invented yet.

I would have loved to experience travel like that, but probably could not have afforded the fare!

Now its in the order of 24 hours to London or other EU destinations, with legs that can be 14 hours or so. When I was working fulltime we traveled business, often got upgraded and were able to deal with it without much trouble. When I retired and started some consulting it was with companies where everyone flew coach. You learn to zone out and get through it, but it does catch up with you. And the 'airport experience' has gotten a lot worse despite teh benefits of the 'club lounges'. One month I did two Australia - Europe return flights. Never again, serious airport/cabin fever with that much dead/sardine time.
Oh the club lounges on the whole are a nightmare. Seem often to be a place people go to get drunk before getting on the plane, especially in an airport where all the flights are delayed a couple of hours.

I will say this. Most airports today have more seating space than is in use at any one time. We find the nearest gate with nothing going on and sit there while waiting.

I find myself tired after flying and for a long time didn't understand why. Now I know it's the reduced oxygen as you're at the equivalent of 8,000 feet. So, it's the Denver effect plus.

Flight attendants in coach are now overworked so that aspect is less pleasant too as they're in such a hurry to complete their duties, politeness and inquiries into how you're doing are reduced.

I don't blame the airlines or the attendants. I even understand the luggage charges. We, the public, have made it clear over and over we don't value service and won't pay for it. The first thing people do when searching for flights is pull up the prices and go for the cheapest.
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Old 07-28-2015, 01:11 AM   #17
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For international long haul, it has to be Business. I will pay for it, but shop around. Business now is not far off what First was. You pay for the space and lie flat comfort, that`s why it costs. Better food, drinks, service, lounges, boarding and disembarking priority are good, but it`s really about the space and sleep. Even so, Business can vary enormously between carriers, you might think Air France and KLM would be good, and China Southern, and Garuda (yes, Garuda!) poor, but IMO it`s the reverse.(Note, revamped Garuda is now allowed back into Europe)
A Sydney> Perth flight is coming up, near 5 hours flying, similar distance NYC to SF( done that Coach on United, never again). We will go Economy ( you call it Coach) to Perth, but it`s a full service A330 flight, not a "budget" carrier.
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Old 07-28-2015, 01:56 AM   #18
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Everything about their pricing model is crazy. This morning the persons sitting a couple of seats over from us probably paid triple what we paid for the same seat.
There is a theory bandied about within the airline industry that kind of explains everything. It's called the "Bananas and Sex Theory of Aviation." It was explained to me many years ago and it goes like this:

Like bananas, airplane seats have a finite date after which you cannot sell them. For bananas, it's when they go rotten. For airline seats, it's when the plane takes off. So if you sell bananas, it's better to get something for them when they start going bad than nothing, even if what you get is a loss. Airplane seats are the same way. Once the plane takes off you can't even give the seats away. So you take steps to prevent you from having to "throw away" an empty seat.

While very simplistic, this theory explains a lot about the pricing "system" the airlines use for tickets.

The sex part is simple. The airline industry, and the aerospace industry in general, is a very sexy industry to be in. So the people in it will do pretty much anything to stay in it even though its cyclical nature means that in an upturn (like now) you can make a lot of money while in a downturn (which is on the way) you will very likely lose your shirt. This is one reason why companies like the one I work for make the decisions they do. To the outside world, they can make no sense. But inside the industry, they make all kinds of sense even though in the light of stark reality they may not.

A lot of people, probably most people along with the media, think the plane pictured below was a big mistake on Boeing's part. In fact, it wasn't. There was no question it would have worked as advertised. I knew and interviewed at length the engineer who came up with the concept that made it work-- we referred to him publicly as "Engineer-X" to prevent the competition from finding out who he was and hiring him away.

The plane was a brilliant concept and the airline's loved it. This industry has always about being three things: faster, farther, and carrying more. It's why we and Airbus develop airplanes that can spawn "families." Get longer, carry more passengers, increase their useful loads and range, and so on. It's one reason we quickly killed off the McDonnell Douglas commercial lineup after the merger. Their planes couldn't grow into families, particularly the MD-95/717.

The Sonic Cruiser promised all three--- faster, farther, and carry more--- and it would have delivered.

Airlines were cuing up to place orders and then they started to think about the cost of fuel. And they started to think about their competitors. And they started to think about the "bananas" part of the "bananas and sex" theory. And they all got cold feet. For good reason, it turned out.

Fortunately, we were hedging our bets because we have plenty of skeptics on our developmental design teams. While we were making lots of noise about the Sonic Cruiser, we were also very quietly designing another plane. A more conventional plane, a slower plane, a more efficient plane. We called it "Project Yellowstone."

Now the sex part of the "Bananas and Sex" theory meant that nobody here wanted to build Yellowstone. We wanted to do the Sonic Cruiser. How cool would it have been to have them parked at airport gates next to the competition's humdrum conventional planes.

But in the end, the Sonic Cruiser started to stumble-- not because it wouldn't have worked as an airplane but because the airlines were starting to guess or speculate or flat out know what was coming their way financially. So we--- reluctantly--- began to talk to them about Yellowstone. And they--- reluctantly--- began to say, "You know, that's maybe what we'd better get."

So Yellowstone became the 7E7 and then a few years later the 7E7 became the 787. And the Sonic Cruiser, as cool and sexy a plane as it would have been, quietly slipped away other than a handful of desk models which around here to day are very valuable.
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Old 07-28-2015, 02:32 AM   #19
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Well I think the airlines are about to learn that faster, further and carry more have reached a tipping point. They were already fast enough and can go far enough. What is missing is adequate passenger comfort in economy.

In the last couple of years I've tried to utilize the Qantas Premium economy class, but usually find that its sold out. Its popular. Its like the old business class where you get a little more recline but nowhere near flat, and a little more leg room and elbow room. The message is clear - whilst some folks just want as cheap as possible, an increasing number can and will pay more for an increment of comfort..

And carry more doesn't work in practice. I've been on several A380 flights, unfortunately all in coach. On every one there has been at least one head out of action during the flight. The ratio of passengers per head is usually trimmed too low anyway, but with one out of service the situation is essentially a nightmare. I actively avoid flights on A380's but have nothing against Airbus. There is just altogether too many sardines on the lower deck while you are on board, and the huge numbers exacerbate the mess at the airport ends of the journey.

B&B, you miss the point about Club Lounges. After a long leg, or even just a 7-8 hour one, there is nothing quite like a shower in a very nice facility before the next leg. When completed with a change of underwear the next leg is much easier to deal with.
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Old 07-28-2015, 02:50 AM   #20
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Well I think the airlines are about to learn that faster, further and carry more have reached a tipping point. They were already fast enough and can go far enough. What is missing is adequate passenger comfort in economy.
There's no money in it, and if there's no money in it it's not going to happen. Don't forget, the fastest growing and most lucrative markets for airlines is not the first world. It's the third world, if you include places like China and India in that. South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Trashcanistans, the Middle East (the airframe and engine manufacturers are already working deals with Iran even while the ink is still drying on the nuclear "deal.")

The people in the fastest growing markets increasingly have the money to fly, but not the money for business or first or coach-plus. These are folks that a few weeks ago were going places by bus or riding on top of train cars.

They don't care about comfort, they just care about getting there. Someday they might care about comfort but we'll all be long dead before that happens.

And remember, faster does not have to mean the plane is faster. I just means it has to get there faster. Which means more direct non-stop flights which means greater range and payload is needed even for the smaller planes like the 737 MAX and the A320neo. You have to match the plane to the route demand and that can often mean a smaller plane that goes a long, long ways.

The 737 was conceived as a short-range plane for Seattle-LA or San Francisco-Denver sorts of flights. If anyone had said back then that the 737 would be flying direct to Hawaii from the west coast and on direct, non-stop transAtlantic flights from Germany to the US and Canada and flights from North America to Central and South America they'd have been dubbed nuts although Boeing would have liked the idea. And today, here was are with the 737 doing just that and getting even greater range with the MAX.
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