I’ve spent a great deal of my career travelling by plane. It was great, even fun way back when, when I was able to travel mostly business class. Then 9/11 happened and an about face began. Economy was crowned king. Then I discovered what true suffering was all about (relatively speaking, of course). Economy on airliners. There is economy and there’s economy. I discovered that this particular class varied significantly depending on the airline; I’m not going to defame one airline over another but I will say that for the most part BA seems to come top in relative quality in my humble opinion – I’m sure others will disagree, it’s a pretty subjective yardstick I use.
The biggest problem with economy travel comes particularly with long haul. Seat separation. They boast about leg room – ‘we have 32” between seats’ says one, ‘we have 32.5” between seats”. Fan-bloody-tastic. Are you impressed with these statistics? Have you noticed that they no longer give specifics in this respect – especially in economy? Whenever you see an airline advert, it’s always business or first class travellers they film. Have you ever wondered why no-one ever made a film called ‘Happy Sardines’? Next time you travel, look at the unfettered joy of the faces of economy passengers one and all, the relaxed way they make their overjoyed way to their spacious seat, slide their hand baggage up into the adequately provisioned overhead lockers, and sit back enjoying that much anticipated glass of sparkly from that smiling stewie. You haven’t seen that? Really? Why?
Well, let me tell you.
Airlines, like all businesses are inherently greedy for profit. They want to make the biggest unit profit they can. You aren’t passengers, you’re units of profit. They do everything they can to reduce the cost of running two or four gas-guzzling engines across vast tracts of the world – and that’s to be expected, and so they should for a number of reasons. The cost of running a plane is prodigious; they have to sweat that asset until it’s ringing wet. As a result, everything they can do to save even 1/2 a percent gets done. The new winglets you see everywhere save on average 3% of the fuel bill. Somewhere along the psychology of passengers has become irrelevant.
You’ve all heard about personal space and how some nations have naturally large ones than others, to wit the Japanese being man-handled onto their subway trains every day, something that would cause riots in some other countries. This is not a criticism, just a fact. If you put a lot of animals in a small enough cage, you’re going to get a reaction.
Reclining seats have been around pretty much since the beginning of jet airliners. So what, you ask. Over the years airlines have followed the lure of bean counters maximising the number of passengers they can fit on one plane. As a result the leg room has been dramatically reduced. They spend huge amounts of time making business class seat-beds ‘perfect’, why don’t they work a little harder for the bread and butter passengers? Because although they got complaints, not enough people voted with their feet. So they carried on. Now it appears that there are too many animals in the cage, and at last we are seeing the results of this money-grubbing approach.
The Knee-defender, what an amazing and simple idea. This is an intelligent, considered response to a worsening situation – the results were, perhaps a little more extreme than envisaged. If the airlines feel they can squeeze us in their capitalistic fashion, then why would they object to another capitalist coming up with a simple and effective solution to a growing problem?
I think it’s time airlines began to take notice of their passengers. If they keep on pushing, something will break, and let’s hope it’s only a massive class action for corporate assault. Maybe they’ll listen then.
Books by the Author:
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Cabin Fever (Sequel)
Out In A Few Days’ Time:
The third in the trilogy – “The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Dez Rez”
Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle
Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle – Z Factor
The Animus Portal