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Would you pay more for faster Air Travel?

I ran across this very interesting article by Jason Paur of Wired, on the history and current state of supersonic air travel. It gives a good history lesson on high speed air travel. Typical commercial jet planes travel at a speed of 550 miles per hour (mph). This despite jet travel being capable of supersonic (faster than sound – 768 mph) since 1941! Other than the the Concorde, no commercial jet airplane has been brought into service that provides supersonic transport. With the decommissioning of the Concorde there is no commercial mode of air transport available that can go faster than 550 mph.


The Concorde
The Concorde

The reason, according to Jason, is that we are too cheap. We refuse to pay for faster air travel and in fact want to pay even less than we do. Faster air travel will cost more due to the extensively higher amount of fuel that would be needed to fly the same distances faster. Today’s jet engines are fine tunes for fuel efficiency at their cruising speed. The Boeing 787, which is the most efficient aircraft in commercial service focussed on making the aircraft lighter, so it used less fuel, and more comfortable for travel, but not faster.

Is that true? Would you be willing to pay more to travel faster? As someone who travels internationally (and beginning to get even more), I would answer Yes! Leave your answer as a comment below.

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  1. I suspect no. That’s why the Concorde failed. At any rate the airlines have already done a detailed analysys and clearly think the answer is no.

  2. Google “boeing sonic cruiser.”

    “In the end, most airlines favored lower operating costs over a marginal increase in speed, and the project did not attract the interest for which Boeing had been hoping.”

    The Sonic Cruiser became the 787.

  3. Boeing, a very well run company ran the numbers. Before starting the 787 project they researched creating a jet that went close to the speed of sound at an increased operating cost of about 20%. The airlines (their customers) did not bite and the emphasis of the airlines appears to be lower operating cost.
    If a jet was designed to travel faster the delays would still be the same and loading time would also be the same. planning flights to minimize non flying hourss would be even mode complicated.

  4. There is alot in this question. I do value minimizing carbon foot print as much as possible, so would rather airlines focused on fuel efficiency over a few extra MPH. I do weigh price when there is an option to take a direct or quicker route and will pay more (even of lose miles on the deal, heaven forbid). I would probably value a long direct flight at the same speed over a plane that has to stop off. A direct flight from west coast to SIN would be nice, for example.

  5. I think people do value their time, but the concorde is a bad comparison. They only sold first class tickets on the concorde. So the question was not a few hundred dollars per hour, but more like a few thousand dollars per hour. Very few people value their time that high.

    If you want to see how people value time and money, then look at markets like NYC-SFO/LAX where a non-stop can easily be $100 more than a flight with a stop.

  6. The Concorde was not the only commercial supersonic jet. The Tupolev 144 was also one but was very short lived for passenger service.

  7. This is just a matter of time. I agree the costs are too high today, but just like alternative fuel technology (think hybrids and electrics) the time will come where it will be cost competitve

  8. Even on an 8hour TPAC, saving 2 or 3 hours, isn’t really that worth it to me. Given a fixed expense structure, I’d rather upgrade my hotel rooms or my dining experiences, than save a few hours when I’m likely sleeping anyways.

    Second, most of the travel time isn’t in the air. I would think someone could figure out how to solve the taxi, security, boarding, customs delays way cheaper… and knock 2 hours off the flight…

  9. find a way to speed up the process leading up to getting in the plane and after arrival would make me happy.

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