On the Subject of Seating… have you ever wondered why you feel like a million dollars when you get an upgrade to business or first class? Is it because you have escaped the back of the plane? Well, partly of course. Who really wants to sit cramped up for 8 hours playing elbow war with your fellow passengers? Or worse still, knee war with the person in front of you who actually thinks that it’s cool to lower his seat so you can barely breathe or function. But the reality is that this feeling of elation as you settle into your semi luxurious environment and as you watch the coach passengers cramped into their seats has been carefully stage managed. After all, it is still the same long tube. Imagine if I said, “How about a hotel night for $24,000 with a lousy meal and your bed is a single bed and you’ll be sleeping next to someone you don’t know who snores all night?”
So, architects have to create a dream or illusion. A great article in the New Yorker called “Game of Thrones” by David Owen tells the story of how it all started. In 1995, British Airways was the first airline to introduce fully flat beds in first class. From then on in, horizontal sleeping in airplanes became a competitive war of out-maneuvering and upping the ante, eventually spreading to business class while the poor coach fliers felt their knees touching the backseat of the passenger in front of them more and more. I recently went to an Emirates launch where they boasted of having showers for first class passengers.
One of the amazing things about the experience of flying in comfort is that it becomes addictive and can often be the highlight of the trip. A company based in the Shoreditch area of London designs airline seats for both Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. James Park, its founder, started the company in 1974. His job is to create a space that is compliant with the safety regulations with a cool entertainment system and seating that can be acceptable in coach and astonishing in first class. All of this comes at an enormous cost. One of the amazing things is that the small video screen in coach which serves as your in-flight entertainment can cost around $1,000 per inch. That means that it’s roughly $10,000 per screen in coach alone. Not a bad precaution as it ensures that there are no cross wires so that somebody in 33C is not suddenly flying the plane. Seats have to be refreshed and ready for immediate re-boarding. Think of a wine spill or something even more grotesque!
Both Singapore and Cathay have been number one and number two in alternating years in airline comfort and first class/business class travelers’ choice for many years. The amount of design that goes into creating the space that you are sitting in is where the architects make their money. If you are flying on Alitalia in “Magnifica” class, then you know that they did not spend any money on their interior architecture. If you fly Delta, United, or American, for the most part you will not experience that same dream sequence as Singapore, Cathay, or Emirates. These are the big players in comfort zones and it stretches from the front to the back of the plane. No detail is left behind. You can even sleep with your wife in a double bed with a private curtain if you want to.
British Airways reaches for a place in the upper hierarchy and even though their fleet has been upgraded, it is still miles away from the design and style of those three airlines. The fishbone-style seating in Virgin is cramped and out of date. Even on American Airlines, which has just upped the ante on its New York – London route by refitting its first class cabins, it misses the most important aspect of all of flying which is the service, the attentiveness, and the enthusiasm of the flight attendants from the top to the bottom of the plane.
Ultimately, you can spend all the money you want on refitting a plane but the flight attendants have the potential to undo it all in one second. That is the most reassuring part of the ever-changing tube we spend our lives flying in. No matter how fancy they make it inside, the fact is that the winning formula has to have the human element. The smile, the special attention, and imagining that every single person especially in coach is doing this for the first time and you have only one chance to make a first impression.
They, this to don’t eyes the hot. I an a canadian pharmacy online hair child a on was be it but.