Will You Have To Stand Up To Fly

Airlines once distinguished themselves on the basis of service and amenities. Now air travel is a commodity.

Have you heard about the new proposed airline seats–standup seats? The actual word came a few months ago, but today I finally heard about someone who sat stood in one. His opinion in a minute.

First an explanation of the seats in somewhat broken English from the Italian manufacturer.

The “SkyRider”, is an ultra-high density seat presently completely engineered and to be finally tested. The SkyRider has been designed and engineered to offer the possibility to even further reduce ticket prices while still maintaining sound profitability, which, even with a dual or three class seating arrangement, will allow maximum certified passenger capacity of the aircraft. With a much reduced seat pitch, the SkyRider preserves a comfortable position for the low fare passengers.

This is all about the money–obviously. That’s why airlines are in business: to make money. Passengers are nothing more than a necessary evil in achieving profit.

In today’s Times finally a first hand butt level assessment from Joe Sharkey their On The Road columnist. It’s the first I’ve read.

As television cameras poked around the display seats for angles, Mr. Menoud asked me, “It is very comfortable, no?”

“No,” I replied, though Mr. Menoud, beaming, seemed to take that as an assent.

I didn’t argue, but it was definitely not comfortable, although the seat, under the name SkyRider, is being promoted as resembling a horse saddle. I wasn’t buying that either. I have ridden many a horse, and the SkyRider seat is nothing like being in the saddle, whether Western or English. Sitting in one was more like being wedged, legs braced, on a stationary bicycle.

That’s what I was expecting. The seats look really cramped. They makes today’s coach seats seem positively spacious.

Some airlines will still buy them!

In spite of dimly remembering pleasant air travel in the era before stewardesses became flight attendants flying today is anything but! Airlines once distinguished themselves on the basis of service and amenities. Now air travel is a commodity. The only differences between flights are convenience and price…. and convenience is very far behind.

In a famously telling story the president of Spirit Airlines once sent an email to his staff in response to a complaining customer.

Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.

Sharkey says Spirit is a likely candidate for these standing room seats. So is Europe’s uber discount carrier RyanAir.

Price rules! A future of seats like these is unavoidable.

More On Net Neutrality

I was going to write about this a few days ago, but I’m wondering if it’s getting too politicized? I have this ‘no partisan politics’ policy here. My suspicion is, this is still on the right side of my line – but close.

I have written about Network Neutrality before. Network Neutrality refers to a defining principle of the Internet – all packets are created equal. Geofffox.com gets the same treatment as google.com as far as your ISP goes.

As is the case when phone companies act as phone companies, they are not looking at the content of what you’re receiving. Without Network Neutrality, packets could be sniffed to assign them a priority – and you probably will have no say in what that priority is and how it’s applied.

I like Network Neutrality. Make no mistake about it, it benefits me. But I also think it’s good for the Internet. New businesses and fresh business ideas are hatched online all the time. I’d like to see the cost of entry kept low. Should new businesses have to bid against EBay or Yahoo! to get to my house on time?

AT&T, Bell South and other carriers would like to charge extra for ‘enhanced’ carriage – a guarantee of expeditious delivery through network traffic. I read some remarks from a Bell South rep… and it made sense. He made analogies to charging more for a first class airline seat.

I understand what he’s saying, but I still don’t buy in.

On one side of this argument are the ISPs, like the Baby Bells. The other side are the Googles and Microsofts and geofffox.com. So far, in the first vote in Congress, the carriers won.

I read this on a site called savetheinternet.com: