Sunday, 3 February 2013

Airline Seating Conundrums

The Spear has been flying recently, and has been struck by two oddities regarding airline seating:

1.       Why is it that cabin staff sit facing backwards rather than forwards like the everyone else?

2.       Airlines are sitting on an untapped resource – seats next to good looking passengers.

Regarding the first point, The Spear assumes that sitting backwards in a vehicle that is moving forwards at great speed is simply the safest thing to do, so that one is thrust back into one’s seat upon any sudden decelerations, instead of thrown forward into the seat in front.

But if it is the safest thing, then why isn’t everyone sitting backward to the direction of travel?  Do the airlines place a higher priority on the lives of their staff than of passengers (as they need to lead any emergency response), or is it that that they are simply at a higher risk as they are flying all the time?  And if the logic is that sitting on way or the other isn’t really going to make a difference if you suddenly hit the side of a mountain when flying at 800km/hr, then why bother with the differing seating arrangements? 

The only reason The Spear can think of is that the airlines want the cabin staff to be able to keep an eye on the passengers during the critical takeoffs and landings while at the same time as being seated.  And, people being people, there may be a passenger or two who they may want to keep their eye on for reasons totally unrelated to airline safety.

Oddity number 2 suggests that passengers may be willing to pay a premium for seating next to the best looking passengers.  The Spear has often spotted a single temptress on his flight, perhaps with a spare seat to her side, only to dutifully follow his ticket in Germanic fashion to the remnant of seat surviving expropriation by the behinds of his belt-extension-requiring neighbours. 

The Spear would happily pay a small premium to be guaranteed a seat free from encroachment by neighbourly love handles.  Also, as a man in the match-making stage of life, to be given a seat next to a single, attractive member of the opposite sex would be preferable – a preference possibly worth paying a bit extra for. 

Sure, it would take the whole romance thing out of randomly sitting next to a potentially suitable stranger, and the prospect may not be as keenly welcomed by single members of the female sex, but really, it is sure to be a more enjoyable experience than going to a bar or a nightclub and having drunk guys run lines on them, and it would have to be an opt-in system.  It would be about providing an opportunity for interaction more than anything else.

Just how the airline would determine a person’s physical desirability though is a tough one.  A person’s BMI or width or weight could probably be a good indicator in terms of ability to stay within the bounds of one’s seat, but in terms of attractiveness, they probably wouldn’t have any choice other than a self-assessment, or perhaps nil assessment, with ‘single and ready to mingle’ being the sole criteria for seating in a singles section for a couple of extra bucks.  

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