Travelers of today often look back in history to the “golden age of travel”, that brief place in time where beautifully attired passengers sipped champagne while chatting up their fellow travelers.
Now think of today. Even after you have survived the long lines and increased security you must still endure the increasingly cramped cabins. Stories are swirling of even tighter conditions and perhaps standing “seats” to come. Flying experiences seem to be declining in quality but is this the true reality?
While it is accurate that coach class cabins have decreased in comfort and size, airlines have invested heavily in making the experience better for consumers through an aircraft cabin upgrade.
An aircraft cabin upgrade creates a better flying experience for consumers. Here are some upgrades that airlines have been implementing.
In our nostalgic look back it is important to note that in the early days of air travel there was only one class of service, and a great deal more legroom. Thus flight attendants were able to easily serve more elaborate meals. In the 1950’s airlines realized by splitting the cabins they could charge more money for some seats. However, this caused significantly more work for the flight attendants who were forced to work with two different meal plans.
Until 1978 law required that every US airline charge the same fare for identical routes so airlines needed to differentiate themselves from their competition in other ways, and food became the star of the show in the 1960’s and early 70’s.
After deregulation the airlines began reducing, or even removing meals in coach class but continued to increase quality in upgrade classes, in part to encourage travelers to pay for not only a better seat, but also better food. In spite of most coach passengers of today having little regard for the lack of food, experts agree that depending upon what cabin you are in, the food today is better than ever.
The most significant change in an airline cabin upgrade, both in coach and business class, is the implementation of ever-improving in-flight entertainment. During air travel days of old there were often lounges where passengers socialized with other travelers. Certainly there is no room for such activity any longer. As more seats were added to the cabins, there was also a need for an alternate form of entertainment.
The need for a new form of entertainment is becoming increasingly necessary in today’s world of personal devices. From the early days of seat-back to today’s trend to move towards systems which work with passengers hand held devices, the airlines are constantly looking at new options.
The majority of flights now offer movies, news, music and, in some cases, even chat options so a passenger can meet someone across the plane they find intriguing all while never leaving their own seat. Travelers of today are consider connectivity one of their prime concerns and the airlines are cognizant of this.
Updated amenity kits
Although it is a bit of a rarity to see in coach class these days, amenity kits are prime ammunition in the land of the upper cabin categories as airlines embark on an all-out arms race to set themselves apart from their competition through their aircraft cabin upgrade.
The ubiquitous amenity kit, in and of itself, is really simply a small bag or satchel containing small or travel-sized toiletries and other useful items such as cabin socks and earplugs. To rewind, in the 1950’s international air travel expanded. Travelers carried on, not only their own toiletries, but even their own blankets and pillows. Once airlines began providing these it sparked the idea that became the modern-day amenity kit.
Back in the day these kits were fairly basic. However, the kits of today are stylish and feature designer toiletries, sleep masks, and even perfume. Upscale amenity kits from such airlines as Etihad even offer a silk sleepsuit!
Cinema style seating
With space at a premium, some airlines are considering moving to significantly thinner seats similar to cinema seating. These new style of seat are much lighter, a big plus for the airlines in regards to fuel consumption. With a smaller footprint, and the ability to move about the cabin, airlines believe it will ease consumer’s minds.
In addition to the suggested thinner seats, the idea of seats folding up, also a la’ cinema style, will substantially decrease the amount of time required for boarding and unboarding.
The upgrades you may miss
Providing comfort in a cramped metal tube will always be a challenge, but airlines are working hard to increase livability. The change to LED lighting is proving to be one small aircraft cabin upgrade that you may not immediately appreciate yet is already proving to reduce jet lag.
Many incremental changes in the ergonomics of an airplanes interior are things that travelers will also rarely notice and yet, when combined together, can make for a more pleasant overall experience. These include a better designed overhead compartment and lavatories made of anti-bacterial surfaces to reduce germs.
Changes for the future
Consider for a moment every red-eye flight you have ever taken. The countless hours spent tossing and turning in an attempt to get comfortable. Now consider how such a flight would be different if you spent the night cozy in a sleep pod. Sound ridiculous?
Perhaps, yet there is increasing chatter of using the extra space between cargo and the fuselage to add such bunks. What seems implausible now may very well be the future of your aircraft cabin upgrade.
Looking back over the history of air travel it becomes obvious that the technology of travel evolves quickly. The life of travelers will need to continue to evolve with them. Before long we may all find ourselves jetting about in the style of The Jetsons!