Passengers & SLF (Self Loading Freight) If you are regularly a passenger on any airline then why not post your questions here?

The Future of Economy Class

Old 25th Feb 2020, 20:00
  #41 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Sweden
Posts: 25
Most airlines are similar to emigrant carriers in the early 1800s and the onboard product is eerily similar to the comforts provided to passengers onboard early liners around the 1850s and 1860s. Steerage were essentially the same as economy class today. Later improvements to the accommodation came with the introduction of third class and thus replacement of dormitories with cabins for 2-6 people, a proper dedicated dining room with white table cloths and decent meals and public spaces including a general room, music room and smoking room.

Airlines are a different breed where the comfort goes down, all in the name of short term profits and cost cutting. Business Class is not a "solution" either since it tend to command a high price premium over Economy, despite promo rates to and from. The problem with flying is the high cost of the equipment, which make it very expensive to have conventional lie-flat seats, thus increasing the prices massively when "one seat" has to cover "three seats" or even more in terms of revenue. I.e. one Business Class seat has to generate as much or more revenue than three Economy Class dittos in order to be profitable. Floor space is a premium in a conventional airliner.

Arguing against regulation and blaming everything on "people buying cheap tickets" make little sense since the whole situation is a combination of culture, ideology and implementation of technology. It is necessary for the aircraft cabin to undergo development a bit similar to the process of the shipping industry did during the rapid progress at the end of the 19th Century into the 20th. One way of doing this is to start to design "3D cabins" - i.e rather than just place seats on a single floor - start the process of stacking them such as pods in Business Class (double the seat capacity with kept comfort levels) and solutions such as beds or even sleeping compartments similar to railway sleeping cars. It is also necessary to move toward a la carte pricing, i.e. not bundling specific seats with a lot of extras, thus increasing the difference between fare classes.

An aircraft with pods in Business Class (double the amount of passengers in this class) and stacked seating in Economy or even sleeping compartments including such amenities located in the "crown" of a widebody (Boeing proposed it for the 747-8 Intercontinental) paired with a la carte pricing would be appropriate. By selling "seats" rather than "service packages" (lounge access, fast track security, prio check-in, flexibility, bigger luggage allowance attached to a Business Class ticket), pricing for improved comfort could be kept reasonable. Food could also be an extra where the passenger can select different options. I.e. you book a seat or a bed depending on desired comfort level and can customize the level of service based on needs. "All inclusive" tickets would be available for those who want it all.

The major obstacle here is the need to develop a completely different cabin and also a different pricing model, paired with a change in ideological thinking (short term profits together with the theory that "if you want comfort, book a Business Class ticket and if you can't pay one, too bad, we don't care about you" ). A first step would be to create a cabin mockup and test it during simulated long distance flights.

I don't see a particular "value" in flying compared to going by ship due to lack of comfort (and buying Business Class tickets doesn't solve the problem since they are unreasonably expensive compared to something like a cruise or transatlantic crossing where the service level is superior in all aspect even if you book an inside cabin). Trains are also way better in terms of comfort and value. It is impossible for me to see why I should pay $1500-2000 or more for a "Business Class" ticket in order to be able to fold my seat flat and sleep in a "dormitory" (no privacy) for something like eight-ten hours when the same amount of money can get me onboard a ship with superior standards including proper dining. An aircraft is still a basic "bus" even with an upgraded ticket in comparison.

If I could book a bed in a six-bed compartment or a pod for a long flight I would be happy to do so. Another solution would be to have an area with beds that can be rented for a period of three-four hours similar to some airport lounges. I.e. staying seated for certain periods (take-off and landing, meal service and some movie watching) before being able to lie down for a few hours.

Improved comfort levels is possible but the ideological obstacle (also evident in this thread) is a hindrance. "Short term profits over all", "race to the bottom" and "don't complain, buy a Business Class ticket" et al are classic examples of it.
AVR4000 is offline  
Old 25th Feb 2020, 20:17
  #42 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: S Wales
Posts: 2
Like KLM, Virgin Atlantic has recently introduced Economy Delight, though it seems a little less generous with only a 3in seat pitch increase, and no increase in the angle of recline. It covers 36 seats on their A350, so they must be expecting reasonable take up. So these two airlines are at least offering the option to get a bit more space at a relatively small extra cost. It will be interesting to see how popular they are (ie whether it lasts or is quietly dropped) and whether other airlines follow suit.
Celestial18 is offline  
Old 25th Feb 2020, 20:18
  #43 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Equatorial
Age: 47
Posts: 603
Did you just compare cruise ships to airliners?

Hmmmm a little thing called travel time!

You do however make a few interesting points.
Global Aviator is offline  
Old 25th Feb 2020, 23:17
  #44 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Auckland nz
Posts: 147
Originally Posted by AVR4000 View Post
Arguing against regulation and blaming everything on "people buying cheap tickets" make little sense since the whole situation is a combination of culture, ideology and implementation of technology. It is necessary for the aircraft cabin to undergo development a bit similar to the process of the shipping industry did during the rapid progress at the end of the 19th Century into the 20th. One way of doing this is to start to design "3D cabins" - i.e rather than just place seats on a single floor - start the process of stacking them such as pods in Business Class (double the seat capacity with kept comfort levels) and solutions such as beds or even sleeping compartments similar to railway sleeping cars. It is also necessary to move toward a la carte pricing, i.e. not bundling specific seats with a lot of extras, thus increasing the difference between fare classes.

Prophetic words AVR4000. See the article below.





Originally Posted by Celestial18 View Post
Like KLM, Virgin Atlantic has recently introduced Economy Delight, though it seems a little less generous with only a 3in seat pitch increase, and no increase in the angle of recline. It covers 36 seats on their A350, so they must be expecting reasonable take up. So these two airlines are at least offering the option to get a bit more space at a relatively small extra cost. It will be interesting to see how popular they are (ie whether it lasts or is quietly dropped) and whether other airlines follow suit.
Well Celestial18, Air New Zealand appears to be following suit in terms of making more space available although to be fair they have been 'plotting' this in their Hangar22, (AirNZ's R&D codename) for some years now and have just taken the wraps off some of the detail of their work in the form of Skynest, the introduction of economy sleeping pods!!


Here's the article that just turned up today!

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/...ectid=12311716

Are we seeing the seeing the turning of a corner?

Bear in mind, we have some huge legs to fly to get anywhere exotic out of NZ so long haul is just that!! The article also mentions the effect of coronvirus and reduced demand for air travel.


Lord Farringdon is offline  
Old 25th Feb 2020, 23:43
  #45 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Everett, WA
Age: 64
Posts: 2,749
While I don't dispute that the experience it coach/economy can be pretty bad, the bottom line is this:
With rare exception, it costs less (in inflation corrected money) to fly First/Business class today than it did to fly coach 40 years ago and by a considerable margin (2x-3x in most cases). Further, the First/Business class experience, for the most part, is miles ahead of what it was - on demand movies and entertainment, fly flat seats, even private cubicles.
Today the customer has a choice - he/she can book premium economy, business, or even First for far less real money than it cost a few decades back, or they can submit to cattle class, and use the money they save on other things such as a better hotel and better food at their destination.
Personally I've made the choice that I'm willing to pay for some comfort. Two recent trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs (~ 2 hours flight time) I sprung for Premium Economy - it was OK (Alaska Air), longer trips to Hawaii and the upcoming Washington DC in First Class, while paying far less in real money than coach tickets would have cost me 30 years ago.
There is a temporary effect, but unless the Corona virus turns into a massive pandemic that kills hundreds of millions, things will return to the current 'normal' when it passes.
tdracer is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 01:10
  #46 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Aust
Posts: 101
How Ironic is it that if you sent your pet by air in a box/cage that provided the same personal space together with the same inability to stand or move as the average economy class passenger, then you would/should rightly be prosecuted for cruelty by the relevant authority.?
deja vu is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 03:55
  #47 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,919
I love AIR NZ and have flown them often between LHR and LAX. However, when I read this (from the article) No prices have been divulged but the airline's Skycouch is priced just below that of premium economy, I fear this brilliant idea will go the way of their first PE cabin with the pods. Pure genius, but. waaaaaaay too close to biz class. Why on earth would I pay for biz for even PE if I get a full bed for less?? I know, the atrticle talks about the Skycouch (different product), but where do you put the price point for this?
172driver is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 04:00
  #48 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: 5Y
Posts: 437
Originally Posted by tdracer View Post
While I don't dispute that the experience it coach/economy can be pretty bad, the bottom line is this:
With rare exception, it costs less (in inflation corrected money) to fly First/Business class today than it did to fly coach 40 years ago and by a considerable margin (2x-3x in most cases). Further, the First/Business class experience, for the most part, is miles ahead of what it was - on demand movies and entertainment, fly flat seats, even private cubicles.

(glad to see this thread moved)


I totally agree. I remember flying BA 747's longhaul as a kid. Looking back, it was an astoundingly awful experience with rude FA's, filthy smoke-filled cabins, the sound system was a fuzzy screen hung from the ceiling with audio pumped through strange air-powered headphones.

But nevertheless, I am required to travel longhaul for work maybe 10 times per year, that can be pretty brutal when company policy requires the cheapest possible ticket. I guess around half my flights are business class, that's achieved by a mix of upgrading myself with miles (getting harder), paying for an upgrade personally when I see a good deal, or when 'summoned' by an organisation with a more generous policy. Many of my colleagues exploit a loophole by claiming medical reasons to only travel business class. I refuse to do that; anyone can claim a 'bad back' and no medic can show otherwise, but it gets close to fraud IMHO. So even though modern air travel is amazingly cheap and reliable, if I paid personally to upgrade myself on every business flight, that would amount to me paying something like $20,000/year for the pleasure of doing my job. And I cannot afford that - I need the money to pay to fly myself in an ancient, noisy, uncomfortable, dangerous, slow 1960's Cessna
double_barrel is online now  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 04:13
  #49 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Toronto
Posts: 29
There's an excellent explanation of the economics of airline classes in this video:

czarnajama is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 08:16
  #50 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Ferrara
Posts: 1,563
That's a great video - thanks!

One thing he misses I think is that the decline in First Class recently is also to do with the availability of long range business jets. The Super Rich no longer have to travel first on long -haul - they just whistle up a Gulfstream. They get better service, avoid all the hassle of checkin and security and it goes to their timetable

Its about $ 70,000 one way - but you get 5-10 seats for that price - so your hairdresser, secretary, security whallah, PR gal etc come as well
Asturias56 is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 11:44
  #51 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: London
Posts: 180
Originally Posted by tdracer View Post
While I don't dispute that the experience it coach/economy can be pretty bad, the bottom line is this:
With rare exception, it costs less (in inflation corrected money) to fly First/Business class today than it did to fly coach 40 years ago and by a considerable margin (2x-3x in most cases). Further, the First/Business class experience, for the most part, is miles ahead of what it was - on demand movies and entertainment, fly flat seats, even private cubicles.
Today the customer has a choice - he/she can book premium economy, business, or even First for far less real money than it cost a few decades back, or they can submit to cattle class, and use the money they save on other things such as a better hotel and better food at their destination.
Absolutely right. Airlines know their markets, and they know how to make money by offering products at a price that will appeal to that market. Suggesting that they should, for example, reduce their business class fares to more "reasonable" levels is crazy. Who defines reasonable? It's basically saying "I would like to fly business but can't afford it which proves that the airlines are basket cases if they don't want my custom." Completely bonkers.

Air travel today is "better" (a subjective term, but take your pick from: cheaper, more comfortable, safer, more accessible, more destinations, more IFE, better for the environment) than it's ever been. 29" pitch or not.
Lord Bracken is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 12:10
  #52 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Clarty Waters, UK
Age: 54
Posts: 911
Originally Posted by tdracer View Post
While I don't dispute that the experience it coach/economy can be pretty bad, the bottom line is this:
With rare exception, it costs less (in inflation corrected money) to fly First/Business class today than it did to fly coach 40 years ago and by a considerable margin (2x-3x in most cases). Further, the First/Business class experience, for the most part, is miles ahead of what it was - on demand movies and entertainment, fly flat seats, even private cubicles.
Today the customer has a choice - he/she can book premium economy, business, or even First for far less real money than it cost a few decades back, or they can submit to cattle class, and use the money they save on other things such as a better hotel and better food at their destination.
This pretty much nails it.

This issue tends to crop up on PPRuNe every few years - inhumane and degrading conditions, race to the bottom, purely concerned with short term profit, governments must intervene etc, etc...Ö.

People forgot that airlines are businesses, and successful businesses only remain successful - especially in highly competitive markets - by adapting to changing markets, understanding their customers requirements and innovating. Airlines are no different. I don't see any evidence in the development of lie flat seats, on-demand entertainment or Premium Economy cabins of a "race to the bottom" for example. Quite the reverse in fact - airlines are investing in the flying experience and forcing their competitors to follow suit or be left behind. And as for basic levels of comfort, economy class travel - in real terms - is historically inexpensive. Airline focus on seat costs has made long haul travel accessible to ordinary people when it was once the preserve of the rich and famous. Instead of condemning airlines, maybe we should praise them?

A simple question to those who are unhappy with economy class standards. How much more are you willing to pay for greater comfort?
Andy_S is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 12:54
  #53 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Great White North of the 49th
Posts: 41
Originally Posted by Andy_S View Post

A simple question to those who are unhappy with economy class standards. How much more are you willing to pay for greater comfort?
I havenít seen many posts stating people are willing to pay more for better economy. The exact opposite actually. Seems people want better economy conditions at the same price which is not happening. Period.
Drc40 is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 13:33
  #54 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: northofwhereiusedtobe
Posts: 1,252
Originally Posted by Andy_S View Post

A simple question to those who are unhappy with economy class standards. How much more are you willing to pay for greater comfort?

We usually fly economy,not because we want to but when (say) flying long distance for a holiday -the trouble is that to upgrade to 1st or even business class then the difference in cost would pay for much of the rest of our holiday,so we just put up with 5 - 10 hrs of relative discomfort and try to keep smiling.
longer ron is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 13:49
  #55 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: USA
Age: 68
Posts: 46
Lord Farringdon: I was intrigued by ANZ's Skynest, until I looked a bit more closely at it. "Pretty narrow," I thought. ANZ's press release (thanks for the link) states that it is "58 cm wide in the shoulder area." My admittedly unscientific observation is that many of the pax attempting to squeeze themselves into economy seats lately are a bit on the - well, let's say "corpulent" side, and I can't see how the Skynest as depicted would be able to comfortably accommodate many of these folks - if, indeed, they were even able to fit into them at all.

I'm not trying to be unkind here, just making an observation. Oh, and can you imagine being asleep in the middle bunk and being awakened by being stepped on by someone trying to climb up into (or down out of) the top bunk?

Last edited by Catwalk Dweller; 26th Feb 2020 at 13:50. Reason: Punctuation
Catwalk Dweller is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 14:11
  #56 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Clarty Waters, UK
Age: 54
Posts: 911
Originally Posted by longer ron View Post
We usually fly economy,not because we want to but when (say) flying long distance for a holiday -the trouble is that to upgrade to 1st or even business class then the difference in cost would pay for much of the rest of our holiday,so we just put up with 5 - 10 hrs of relative discomfort and try to keep smiling.
That, of course, is the calculation you make. And like yourself, many people will take the practical view that given a choice between 8 hours of less than ideal comfort and 2 weeks of less than ideal accommodation, perhaps it's best to regard the flight as a means of travelling between A and B at reasonable cost rather than something that's been inflicted on them.
Andy_S is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 15:21
  #57 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Benelux
Posts: 333
As we got older there came a time when my wife and I decided that our holidays would begin and end from closing the front door to reopening it x days or weeks later. Hassle free flying and accommodation. Sure, we have had the odd flight delay and even cancellations, but as a C Class passengers we were always well taken care of. A good example of that was a cancelled KLM connection to Amsterdam for onward travel to Newark. Y class were bused to AMS, missing their connections and of course having to be re-booked on later flights or even the next day. As C Class pax we were put on a competitor's direct flight to EWR arriving earlier than our original schedule via AMS. That alone was worth the extra cost of our Business tickets on that occasion.
BRUpax is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 15:42
  #58 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Great White North of the 49th
Posts: 41
Re: previous astute comments about the increased amenities in biz class, that’s absolutely true. While cost has dramatically decreased, the perks of biz class have exponentially increased. 30 years ago we didn’t have lay flat seats. The first I saw was on BA maybe 20 years ago. I thought it was ridiculous then and still think it’s ridiculous. Unless I’m on 8+ hours I never lay the seat back full never mind let the flight attendant make my bed and tuck me in. I laugh at some of these flying review sites espousing the biz class beds and turn down service. They are nothing but professional flyers, not frequent business or occasional holiday flyers. What are they called, some stupid name “influencers”? Bloody made up job.

I think there is a market for people like me who want business class leg room, decent recline, enough space to work on a laptop but have no use for lay flat unless it’s super long haul. The airlines could accommodate another class at a slight upgrade from PE that would probably sell if it was cost effective. I think Continental tried it once but the product was terrible. I’ve talked to many FF’ers who are just like me. PE is not worth paying a premium but there is a market for Biz class light with no bed. Reconfigurations could work, net the airlines the margin they need and maybe offer a little better economy at the same time.

BTW... I’d never, ever buy a biz class ticket with a POD/stacked seating arrangement. I mean NEVER. You want to put that in economy fine, see what happens but I seriously doubt a biz class flyer would ever accept that thing.

Last edited by Drc40; 26th Feb 2020 at 15:48. Reason: Added comment.
Drc40 is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 21:00
  #59 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: USA
Age: 74
Posts: 116
My flying has become a lot less frequent since I retired but I still have a lot of frequent flier miles to burn through. Last summer my wife and I vacationed in Europe and I opted for Delta's Premium Economy. Just for kicks I checked the back of the bus and found no seats available on the same flights. That might be an indicator - it wasn't a huge difference in Sky Miles to go premium economy but most not willing to pay the extra. So if it is creature comfort, people will bitch about it endlessly but given the option for better, they would rather stay home. Governments stepping in and regulating seat size is effectively regulating ticket prices. However there is still wasted overhead space, especially on wide bodies, so a flip down carrier like in sci-fi, flip down, passenger stands inside and belts securely, flip up and everyone is neatly stored along the cabin roof.
NWA SLF is online now  
Old 26th Feb 2020, 21:08
  #60 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: FLSomething
Posts: 96
Originally Posted by MikeSnow View Post
Let me get this. You are saying that it is already regulated, but it should ABSOLUTELY not be regulated?
Thereís a difference between regulating to have enough space to get out in a fire and making sure that Jimbob gets an extra four inches of legroom, god forbid he gets a bit cramped during his 30m flight from Luton to Amsterdam.

The argument was never about safe seats, it was to force people to pay more, for extra legroom that they donít want, just for the sake of it.
VariablePitchP is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.