If we do end up with (most) airlines converting to premium offerings and ditching coach class, we’ll be right back where airline travel started. My old friend and former boss at Lockheed, George Hamlin, has a column, “Suite Life,” that talks about this and other factoids from the era of super glamorous air travel over at Air Transport World.
As he recalls:
Airline service began by catering to a premium market. … As commercial aviation advanced, there were numerous other aircraft types that were fitted with berth-type sleeping facilities. In addition, as aircraft became larger, it also was possible to install more luxurious passenger accommodations.
One big shortcoming, though. None of today’s ultra premium offerings seem to have figured out how to integrate showers and other necessaries into the suite, something the rail industry did 80 years ago. One must still trudge down the hall to the shared “facilities.” I don’t know how you feel about this sort of thing, but to me, it’s totally unacceptable. You can be sure that Captain O’Leary and her colleagues will get it right.
Where are coach passengers going to go? Well, if you scroll down on George’s page, you’ll find a link to a column entitled “Which is better: A380 or 747-8I? Maybe both,” in which we read about Russian carrier Transaero. This airline, based in Moscow and ranking as Russia’s second largest, is ordering both the A380 and the 747-8 Intercontinental. Why?
Moscow-based Transaero has two main goals, [CEO Olga] Pleshakova said: “The mass transit of tourists and [winning] the intense competition for business travelers on medium-haul routes from Russia to Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.”
In pursuit of the first goal, Transaero plans to utilize the A380, into which it will pack 650 passengers. To meet the second objective, the carrier is inclined toward the 747-8I.
I think what this means is that if you fly coach, you’ll soon look back on today’s spacious 10-across rows and 31 inch pitches with fond nostalgia.(Seat info from seatguru.com)
Other posts on Imperial Class: