Thursday, March 29, 2018

Airline executive wants to stick passengers in the cargo hold

Would you spend a flight in the cargo hold with your luggage?

Alan Joyce, chief executive officer of Australian airline Qantas Airways, has some ideas on how to use the space that’s better known as the chilly spot where pets sometimes perish and battery fires sometimes start.

Speaking in a meeting with the Australia-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce in London on Tuesday, Joyce raised the idea of someday using the cargo hold for a new class of cabin, where some passengers could sleep in large pods and exercise.

The suggestion is part of Joyce’s plan for “Project Sunrise,” his goal to create a non-stop flight between Australia (from Sydney or Melbourne) and the UK and another direct flight to New York City within the next four years. Such a flight would take more than 20 hours, and could require a redesign of planes.

“In doing so, we need to re-imagine the whole travel experience,” Joyce said in his speech. “Is there a new class that’s needed on the aircraft? What are the out-there ideas that could apply to this and really change air travel for the future? And nothing, nothing is off the table.”

Other airline executives have made outlandish promises about in-flight amenities in the past: Virgin Atlantic’s Richard Branson previously promised onboard casinos that never came to fruition. Lufthansa reportedly is working to develop in-flight yoga classes and other fitness experiences. Brian Sumers, airline reporter for travel analysis site Skift, said using the cargo hold for sleeping may be more attainable.

“It wouldn’t be easy, and it might not be commercially viable, but it’s good to hear an airline executive talking about bringing train-style compartments to airplanes,” he said.

Meanwhile, airlines may do better to focus on improving the basic flight experience before adding more bells and whistles, said consumer advocate Christopher Elliott. Qantas puts economy-class passengers in seats that are 17.5 inches wide and have a pitch — the space between a point on one seat and the same point on the seat in front of it — of 31 inches. That’s relatively standard for a major airline, but uncomfortable for a long-haul flight of 20 hours.

“It’s more profitable but it’s also highly unethical,” Elliott said of the seat pitch. “Instead of thinking about exercise rooms and luxury berths for its elite passengers, maybe Qantas should find ways of giving all of its customers a humane amount of legroom.”

Original article can be found here ➤

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