How Airlines Can Make 90% of Customers Traveling Experience More Miserable

If Zodiac Seats France successfully commercializes the “Economy Class Cabin Hexagon” patent, next generations of leisure travelers will probably never forgive Zodiac for developing the hexagon seat, space saving design for aircraft economy cabin. A Boeing 767 will be able to accommodate up to 80 passengers more with the new seat arrangement. It is difficult to believe travelers will enjoy flying with other passengers face to face.

Airlines do absolutely everything to attract customers to increase revenue. Price wars among airlines are not uncommon. Economy cabin customers are frequently astonished with an offered quality service at first and business cabins. Frequent flyers, business customers, or economically privileged travelers have the opportunity to enjoy lavish services, and most of those customers could experience some level of discomfort once forced to switch to an economy cabin. This is completely understandable. Who does not get used to the lap of luxury quickly?

A380 First ClassPicture 1
Airbus A380 First Class Cabin Seat

Long distance to reach a final destination or long flight hours do not discourage most of customers from traveling, assuming they travel in one of premium cabins. Ultimately, the more comfort on the flight, the more enjoyable flying experience will be. Consequently, jet lag might be one of the main and the only complains first and business cabin customers verbalize. Unfortunately, there is one more group of customers – leisure passengers or backpackers – who occupy exclusively economy cabin. Since this is the least profitable cabin or sector of customers, airlines provide minimum trip requirements just to move those passengers from point A to point B. In order to stay competitive, airlines pay more attention to ancillary revenue they might obtain from leisure customers rather than focusing on improving flying experience to attract new economy cabin customers. Undoubtedly, the invisible hand does its job well and revenue from additional fees skyrocketed in recent years. Despite the fact it makes sense form the economical stand point of view for a for-profit organization, continuous customer disappointment does not bring to an end carriers from removing rest of “benefits” making flights more enjoyable and desirable as it used to be back in the day.

Unhappy Economy Cabin CustomerPicture 2
Unhappy Economy Cabin Passenger

An average airfare purchaser has most likely never heard about Zodiac Seats France, one of the world leaders in the airline industry manufacturing aircraft passenger seats. If Zodiac Seats France successfully commercializes the “Economy Class Cabin Hexagon” patent, next generations of leisure travelers will probably never forgive Zodiac for developing the hexagon seat, space saving design for aircraft economy cabins. Designers found out a way to increase cabin density by placing a middle seat between two seats in a row. How it works? It cannot get simpler than that. Let’s imagine a row of three seats. Then, two seats, by the window and by the aisle, face towards the front of the airplane, but the middle seat faces towards the back of the airplane. The brilliant idea makes a backpacker traveling almost face to face with other backpacker entire trip. As the old adage says “a picture is worth thousand words”, so let’s stay modern and see in action whether or not several hours long flight on the hexagon seat could provide the same level of flight desirability, enjoyment and privacy to spend a hard earned cash with delight.

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Hexagon Seat Arrangement

The first time when I saw the clip, I had a smile on my face seeing theater seats on the plane. But realistically there is nothing to smile about flying few hours and have someone in front of yourself. Despite its immediate disadvantage to leisure customers, the hexagon seat arrangement might also provide some benefits. The first area of improvement is detectable in the shoulder and arm area due to the fact travelers do not seat next to each other. The second area of improvement reduces the possibility to chat to talkative stranger due to the fact the proposed hexagon increases the gap between seats in the same row. Regardless how I look at the new seat I cannot rationally explain the potentially achieved benefits could outweigh the only one face-to-face disadvantage. The deeper analysis of Zodiac’s proposed hexagon seat arrangement could turn out to be extremely undesirable with sensitive customers forced to use sickness bags. It could be very challenging to find a passenger who might find a pleasure sitting face-to-face with someone dealing with nausea or even vomiting. I also cannot see the hexagon seat arrangement to be very user friendly during its regular in-flight usage, e.g. leaving and entering the seat after a trip to a washroom, or during turbulence.

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Potential Appearance of Economy Cabin Class

At this point of time Zodiac Seats France just filed the patent, and it is uncertain whether or not the company will move the hexagon seats to the certification phase to be approved on the aircraft. Ultimately, airline executives might have the key role in encouraging the seat manufacturer to bring the hexagon seats to commercial life. The fact that the hexagon seat arrangement can increase up to 80 travelers the number of passengers on Boeing 767 might be very appealing to airline executives. If it happens, no one should be surprised as the airline industry is continuously evolving, and its never-ending drive to accommodate more passengers on a single flight might never come to an end. While this approach is completely justifiable, there is also strong empirical data the economy cabin becomes less and less enjoyable to 90 % of world travelers or backpackers. On the other hand, premium cabins get only better and better.

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I am an aviation professional and a creative opportunity maker with never-ending drive to learn and explore. I have an enjoyable aviation career since 2001 and work presently as a landing gear manager for a leading Canadian maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) aircraft approved organization (AMO). I had an opportunity to work for two airlines where I gained a solid aircraft knowledge and experience working as an aircraft technician. I also had a privilege to earn both, undergraduate and graduate degrees, from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL, USA. I also graduated from an aircraft maintenance program from Centennial College, Scarborough, ON, Canada. I always am ready to have a good conversation and to connect with my former co-workers and new friends. I can easily be found on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

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