Flying coach — if you were a dreamer, what changes would you make?

Written by admin on January 13, 2009 – 12:20 pm -

Since more and more of us are stuck in the rear of the (bus) plane, what would you tell the airlines about how to make coach class more palatable?

The adage, “the back of the plane arrives at the same time as the front,” holds little to no consolation when passengers deplane and feel as if they’re a pretzel that’s been put through the ringer.

Some ideas:
More seating room. More knee room, shin room, better lumbar support and toe room without making the seat-bottom shorter. When sitting for long periods of time, comfort is determined by being able to stretch your legs forward and distribute some of your weight on to the back of your thighs. If the seat-bottom is shorter so that the airline can market “more legroom,” that doesn’t count.

Put an end to reclining seats. There’s not enough space and who needs someone pushing his or her seat all the way back and taking up your personal space.

Increase the width of the seats. Two inches makes a big difference. Travelers have voiced wanting a small foot rest for comfort’s sake.

There are a couple of companies working on staggered seat designs for economy/coach. These seats allow airlines to keep the same number of seats, but since the rows are angled, they offer more room to individual passengers. Those polled are unanimous they’d like to see airlines move to this sort of seating configuration.

Scrub cabin air. The air should not simply re-circulated. It needs to be effectively filtered to combat germs spreading throughout the rear part of the plane.

Don’t promise service when there is none. Most people would rather pack their food than having to buy an expensive ‘meal’ that’s been sitting forever. That would free up the flight attendants to do their jobs –- which is making sure passengers are safe in case there’s an emergency.

How about a power plug? Coach passengers want to be able to connect a laptop, MP3-player or other electronics.

Quieter cabins, better reading lights and improved personal climate control.

Family steating. Some people wish there were designated seating for people traveling with young children with a soundproof barrier between the sections.

Cleaner planes and lavatories. What about locating WCs in other places than simply in the rear of the plane? Clean the cabins more often.

More efficient boarding and deplaning process. One idea: Make checked baggage more reliable, safe and free (for at least the first bag) so passengers aren’t encouraged to board with incredible amounts of carry-on luggage.

A small “lounge” (space next to the galley) on long haul flights would allow passengers to get out of the seat, stretch, communicate and have a drink.

OK  — this is a start. What intelligent suggestions would you like to convey to airlines executives in the position to effect change? It never hurts to fantasize.

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis.

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