New Airline Strategy for Transporting Bodies
International Airlines have just come up with a new method to pack more bodies into their aluminum coffins: strap bodies into vertical body bags, or perhaps the human horizontal body hotels in Tokyo? I have another suggestion. Six passenger levels based on how much you can afford. Body bags (cheap) to full-beds (pretty penny). Why must the budget-minded suffer while the ultra-rich get unreacheable perks? Let's have some mid-choices.
Some airlines are already doing this, such as ANA, EVA, and a few others to Asia, that offer some great deals on mid-level travel with comfort at mid-level prices. That's the solution.
One Day, That Economy Ticket May Buy You a Place to Stand
April 25, 2006
The airlines have come up with a new answer to an old question: How many passengers can be squeezed into economy class?
Airbus has been quietly pitching the standing-room-only option to Asian carriers, though none have agreed to it yet. Passengers in the standing section would be propped against a padded backboard, held in place with a harness, according to experts who have seen a proposal.
But even short of that option, carriers have been slipping another row or two of seats into coach by exploiting stronger, lighter materials developed by seat manufacturers that allow for slimmer seatbacks. The thinner seats theoretically could be used to give passengers more legroom but, in practice, the airlines have been keeping the amount of space between rows the same, to accommodate additional rows.
The result is an additional 6 seats on a typical Boeing 737, for a total of 156, and as many as 12 new seats on a Boeing 757, for a total of 200.
That such things are even being considered is a result of several factors. High fuel costs, for example, are making it difficult for carriers to turn a profit. The new seat technology alone, when used to add more places for passengers, can add millions in additional annual revenue. The new designs also reduce a seat's weight by up to 15 pounds, helping to hold down fuel consumption. A typical seat in economy class now weighs 74 to 82 pounds.
"There is clearly pressure on carriers to make the total passenger count as efficient as possible," said Howard Guy, a director for Design Q, a seating design consultant in England. "After all, the fewer seats that are put on board, the more expensive the seat price becomes. It's basic math."
Even as the airlines are slimming the seatbacks in coach, they are installing seats as thick and heavy as ever in first and business class — and going to great lengths to promote them. That is because each passenger in such a seat can generate several times the revenue of a coach traveler.
At the front of the cabin, the emphasis is on comfort and amenities like sophisticated entertainment systems. Some of the new seats even feature in-seat electronic massagers. And, of course, the airlines have installed lie-flat seats for their premium passengers on international routes.
Seating specialists say that all the publicity airlines devote to their premium seats diverts attention from what is happening in the back of the plane. In the main cabin, they say, manufacturers are under intense pressure to create more efficient seats.
"We make the seats thinner," said Alexander Pozzi, the director for research and development at Weber Aircraft, a seat manufacturer in Gainesville, Tex. "The airlines keep pitching them closer and closer together. We just try to make them as comfortable as we can."
There is one bit of good news in the thinner seats for coach class: They offer slightly more room between the armrests because the electronics are being moved to the seatbacks.
One of the first to use the thinner seats in coach was American Airlines, which refitted its economy-class section seven years ago with an early version made by the German manufacturer Recaro.
"Those seats were indeed thinner than the ones they replaced, allowing more knee and legroom," Tim Smith, a spokesman for American, said. American actually removed two rows in coach, adding about two inches of legroom, when it installed the new seats. It promoted the change with a campaign called "More Room Throughout Coach."
But two years later, to cut costs, American slid the seats closer together and ended its "More Room" program without fanfare. When the changes were completed last year, American said its "density modification program" had added five more seats to the economy-class section of its MD-80 narrow-body aircraft and brought the total seat count to 120 in the back of the plane. A document on an internal American Airlines Web site, which was briefly accessible to the public last week, estimated that the program would generate an additional $60 million a year for its MD-80 fleet
New York Times