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Is flying getting worse and better?

an airplane at an airportI just read this excellent interview of Mark Gerhick, former chief counsel of the FAA about a book he wrote: ‘Full Upright And Locked Position‘ (I have not read the book. The full interview (on NPR) can be found here in both written and audio form. Here are some key points he makes:

Traveling in Economy is getting worse:

No objection to that statement at all. While some airlines now have Economy Plus or ‘better’ Economy seats for their Elites or for a fee, most economy seats are getting closer to the ones in front of them. Most regional carriers are terrible. Mainline carriers like US Airways in the US are absolutely the worse.

Traveling in Business or First is getting better:

Now he means International Business or First class. Domestic First is not gotten any better. I cannot speak for International First. Like the author I have not had firsthand experience. International Business class – Yes, it is awesome. Over the last nine months I have flown internationally in Business Class on United, Lufthansa and Swiss. All experiences were great. My personal measure is how I feel when I get off the plane. Do I feel like I need a massage followed by a long nap or fresh and rearing to go. With the Business Class flights it has been the latter.

Quote from the article:

“First class is getting to be really first class. And I speak not from a lot of personal experience, but the airlines have realized that this is where a great deal of their revenue comes from. One airline once said that 25 percent of the passengers provide 75 percent of the revenue. So if you get that premium cabin filled, you’re going to do well. … Some of the upscale foreign carriers — Emirates, Singapore, long-haul Asian carriers — have thrown tremendous amounts of money into first class. … What’s in store is that some of the Middle Eastern airlines are putting bidets in their bathrooms, and Emirates has a couple of showers on their A380. So you can have a five-minute drenching … in their spa shower. Some of the airlines have new privacy pods which they’re putting in their ultra-first-class A380, where you [have] basically 7 or 8 feet of space, your own large-screen television and private minibar, and it’s an enclosed space, with a full bed. At the high end now we’re talking $10,000 or $20,000 a ticket, so it’s not exactly available for everybody.”

I hope so… I would love to experience International First sometime soon! Any airline wanting to offer up a free upgrade to First on my next International Trip, I will blog about it…


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