Pimp My Flight

19 May

It’s been interesting to read about, and experience some of the transformations going on in the world of commercial aviation lately. It’s really exciting times because it means a better overall flying experience for the consumer–especially those of us stateside who’ve gritted our teeth through subpar service for so long. I’ve had some truly cringe-worthy experiences flying cattle, I mean, coach class; those truly unfortunate times coveted seats upfront was just not an option. And, it’s been sometimes embarrassing when a gentleman or lady, seated next to me, clearly a foreigner not used to how we here have gotten used to roughing it, request an alcoholic beverage when those proverbial carts come rolling down the isle, only to find themselves in a complete state of bewilderment moments later when the Flight Attendant declares: That will be $7, please.

Times appear to be changing though. It seems the folks over at our familiar carriers, those we’ve taken to affectionately (or not) referring to as ‘legacy’ carriers’ are trying to spruce things up–a certain bounce seems to be pep in their steps. American’s going through a systemic fleet renewal (a long overdue overhaul) with the introduction of the stretched 777-300ER, including luxuries like power ports (at every seat) International Wi-Fi, walk-up bar for premium customers, and one of the better In-flight Entertainment systems out there. Delta’s sprucing up its planes and has announced orders for the latest version 737-900 and Airbus variants to be delivered in the next couple years. And, United is going through it’s own retrofitting process as well and is the only US carrier to have the 787 Dreamliner airborne.

Premium cabins are also seeing a transformation, too; not that these customers have had much to gripe about, to be fair. The meals have remained and the open bar, never threatened. However, more perks are being rolled out. 180 degree lie-flats have become commonplace, even domestically on coast to coast NY to LA/SF flights, with even the likes of jetBlue jumping in the game. I suppose defeats the whole notion of being a discount operator. Still, it’s a high revenue generating route so one cannot be overtly critical of their desire to want a piece of the pie. American offers the only 3-class service on these routes (the first class cabin is a replica more or less of what you’ll find in International Business in their new cabins). United’s PS service is an all new retrofitted two-class configuration.

Though by some accounts we’re still lagging behind some international carriers, we seem to be making some great progress. We’ll be watching and sharing our thoughts as these developments continue to unfold. Have some thoughts? Do share–would be great to hear about other experiences.

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