Just because you’re in the back of the plane doesn’t mean you can’t fly in comfort.
Know Your Plane Models
For long-haul flights, look for the spacious double-decker Airbus A380, used primarily by Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, and Lufthansa. New smaller aircraft, including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 XWB, have larger windows, HD video screens, and lower cabin pressure. Most booking websites, including Kayak, list plane details in the results.
While premium passengers reap the rewards of competition among airlines, it’s a different story in back. One problem, according to Tim Winship, publisher of Frequentflier.com, is that carriers are flying at near-full capacity these days, so you can no longer count on having an empty seat next to you. At the same time, airlines are squeezing in more seats, using slim-line models that are narrower and have less padding than previous versions. On the flip side, new planes do offer better in-flight technology both obvious (touch screens) and less so (humidity controls; mood lighting). Whether this counteracts the increasing claustrophobia of economy is up for debate. One thing is certain: those premium economy seats are looking mighty tempting.
Airlines are treating the bicoastal set to something new: a few hours’ sleep. Carriers have been rolling out new lie-flat business-class seats on their transcontinental narrow-body jets to woo passengers flying between the east and west coasts. Here’s a comparison of the latest offerings.
Lufthansa is the latest airline to introduce premium economy. T+L takes a look at what your money buys, based on sample fares from Chicago to Frankfurt.
At 17 to 18 inches, economy seats are standard for the industry, and have a seat pitch of 31 inches. Hot meals are served on long hauls, including freshly baked bread. As for the entertainment: nine-inch seatback screens offer access to on-demand movies, TV shows, and live sports. Every other seat has a set of power outlets.
Amid rising fears of more cases of Ebola reaching our shores, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Centers for Disease Control have introduced enhanced passenger-screening procedures at several international airports. Screenings at New York's JFK airport (which receives 43 percent of travelers from Ebola-afflicted nations) began last week; similar protocols are scheduled to start this week at Newark Liberty, Washington-Dulles, Chicago O’Hare, and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport. Minnesota officials are also lobbying for screenings at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Breaking news that a Dallas health care worker took a flight to Cleveland from Dallas the night before she reported symptoms of Ebola (for which she has tested positive), will certainly send another shudder through the aviation industry, as airlines and airport workers evaluate what procedures they have in place to handle infected passengers. As a reminder: Ebola is not transmittable through casual contact. A person must be exhibiting symptoms to spread the virus—putting health-care workers and close family members at greatest risk.
Here's the truth: you don't really know someone till you've flown together. Based on T+L's Peter Jon Lindberg's article on the topic, we're discussing in-flight strategies and tips in our Twitter chat on Tuesday, October 14th from 2 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET. Join along to ask the experts for advice!