20 April 2008

The Professor is travelling this week

Dear All

I shall be in UK and DE this week. So not much time to write.

Go back and look at some of our older blogs. Some of them make interesting reading

Cheers and have a good week



Did Ending Regulation Help Fliers?

This is from a story in the NYTimes


Check out the cool picture with the story.

Most people would think that deregulation has been a boon to all. I wholeheartedly support that notion. Less Government is more. But lately I have started to look at some of the fundementals of the pricing model for airlines. It is not good. Yield is WAY down. With Fuel prices now being the largest discretionary item of airline cost – there is essentially a new set of people holding the airlines hostage. The airlines face an uncertain future with oil at its current levels. We believe that there is unlikely to be a fall in the price of all of any significance.

So while deregulation helped just about everyone – it has hurt some.

I would argue that there is a case for some regulation coverage for certain types of activity. Now is a good time to think about the economic value of the air transportation system.
Lets hope someone does it soon.



Airline IFE – Stop being fancy – make it work

Airline IFE – Stop being fancy – make it work - PLEASE

Having spent many days on aircraft of the commercial variety – I can pretty much tell how good or bad an In Flight system is.
Pretty much the designers think of it as a necessary evil and not necessarily do they think it through.

I cannot count how many times I have watched Delta’s Linux based system reboot. I was even thinking about getting a penguin and dressing him up in a flight attendant’s uniform. The worst example of IFE I ever experienced was on Emirates first version of the A340-500 Biz class. It was just diabolically difficult to use. Wires and crap everywhere. I have been on more flights that needed resets than not. Particularly the power. In seat power should be standard and work fine. As I write this on DL 737-800 it has power working in some ports not all.

So here is some advice for airlines that I hope they heed. If they don’t then I guess I shall be SOL.

1. Fix the equipment. This needs to be hardened and reliable.
2. A big suggestion don’t make a one reset button for the whole system. That is just stupid.
3. Fix the controls. Make them simple. All IFE designers should go back to School. The User Experience is about making it simple and straightforward and easy.
4. There is such a thing as TOO much choice. Virgin America take note.
5. The headset socket combo. How difficult is it to make this work. Sticking the headset jack where it will get knocked all the time is just stupid.
6. Reasonable headsets. An aircraft is noisy. So acknowledge that and sell reasonable ones that work reliability.
7. Good content – this is much improved but still there is just only so much you can deal with.
8. Make it easy for the Flight Attendants to work the thing. All FAs I have ever spoken to believe that this is way more complicated than necessary.

God help us when we have internet access and email on US airlines. I loved Connection and used it on SQ, LH and SK. It was pretty cool using Skype to call friends from the plane – but the quality was good enough for even conference calls.

So pay attention Knuckleheads. IFE has to be easy and useful.

Please fix this.