Tagged in: Plane

Traveling by Air: Understanding The Plane You’re On

To know your plane is very important for the quality trip you’re going on. It can easily be done when you’re going to select a flight and buy a ticket.
 

The search option by most airlines will help you choose the desired plane and desired seat on the plane. The following are the most important things to consider while choosing your air travel services and plane, keeping in line with your comforts and budget:
 

Noise
 
Noise causes a nuisance to the passengers, especially if you’re looking for some rest. Jet-noise problems are most severe in planes with rear-mounted engines, where noise in the last few rows can truly be offensive.

     

  • Favor: A380s and 787s, with their latest-generation engines.
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  • Avoid: Seats far to the rear, especially in the last three to four rows in MD80s and MD90s, and the last two to three rows in smaller regional jets.

 

Smoothness
 
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In general, the bigger the plane, the less bumpy the ride will be. Jumbo jets are like big cruise ships: relatively smooth even in rough air. Choose bigger planes and always look for the better travel options when considering your budget.
 

  • Favor: A380s, 747s, and 787s are more favorable.
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  • Avoid: Small regional jets and turboprop are less favorable.

 

Cabin Air
 
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The latest generation of jets — the 787 and soon-to-come A350 — provide lower cabin altitudes and higher humidity than older models. You’ll notice the difference if you have a long flight for your vacation.
 

  • Favor: 787s and A350s instead of other planes.

 

Seating
 
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Seating space varies from older to newer planes. Unlike front-to-rear space, side-to-side seat spacing on most planes does depend on airplane model. There are airline-to-airline differences in the number of seats per row, and therefore, width on two wide-body planes.
 

  • Favor: 18-inch (or better) nine-across seats on 777 and eight across seats on 787.
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  • Avoid: 17-inch 10-across seats on 777 and nine across seats on 787; especially avoid a few foreign A330/340 models.

 

Overhead Bin Space
 
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Overhead bin space is another important factor to know before booking a plane. It is the potential travel factor while sitting in the plane and enjoying your space.
 
It varies mainly by plane model, but occasionally by airline as well. Unfortunately, we know of no online source of detailed data on bin design and space. In general, however, newer plane models have larger bins.
 

Entertainment
 
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Entertainment is a vital part to look into, even features such as on demand, multichannel TV, and movies. Older planes have pre-loaded tablets, TV having limited program choice and timing, while newer planes have a stronger TV offering. No airlines provide entertainment on MD80/90 while some airlines provide no entertainment on their smaller short-haul mainline planes. Likewise, only a few regional jets have entertainment.
 

Power Outlets
 
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Power outlets are in demand from today’s airlines due to the increased use of tablets and mobiles. Most new planes provide standard plug-in AC power in limited seats while older planes provide low-voltage DC, a USB connection, or automobile type socket. Most of the travelers want to connect to the Internet, play games, do corporate work, etc. while still having an acceptable mobile battery. So choose your plane wisely if this is important to you.
 

WiFi
 
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Due to the strong use of the Internet, WiFi availability is vital for every passenger on board. Fortunately, there is competition among airlines to provide better Internet speed and bandwidth. Alaska, Delta, Jet Blue, and Virgin America are among the emerging airlines to provide fleet-wide WiFi. There are some websites showing the airline/plane combinations providing WiFi. However, they do not differentiate between limited and high-bandwidth.
 

Premium Economy
 
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Airlines in North America offer a “semi-premium” option: three to five inches of extra pitch. True premium requires a maximum of seven seats per row in A330/340, A380 upper deck, and 787, and eight seats per row in 747 and 777. Some airlines do even better. Open Skies is the only carrier (as we know) that offers true premium economy in a 757, at four-across.
 

Business and First Class
 
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Different airlines use differing approaches to layout. Nowadays, a flatbed is becoming the competitive norm — Delta, for example, is 100 percent flatbed.
 
Paying a fortune for a “business class” seat on a red-eye flight that does not lie flat at all? On a few airlines, including Copa, Iceland air, and most of the long-haul low-fare airlines based in Europe; you will find it.
 

Getting The Information
 
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You can find most of the airplanes on several online sources. A complete coverage is on a site; Seat Guru, which shows seat plans, dimensions, in-flight entertainment, power availability, WiFi availability, and seat recline. It also highlights “bad” seats. If Seat Guru lists any airline you’re considering, you need to go no further. Other online seat sources include Seat Expert, Seat Maestro, and Seat Plans.

 

 

This Guide’s To Help You Avoid Certain Plane Seats

Having enough legroom is a big deal, but that’s not the only aspect where airplane seats can come up short. During your travels, you will face stubborn seats which won’t recline and others located where the washroom smells will smack you in the face. The point here is that your assigned seat can disappoint you in many ways. But don’t despair! It’s totally possible to avoid getting into this situation. All you have to do is learn a few tricks for you next seat selection. You will find a comprehensive list of tips below that you should definitely remember the next time you travel to avoid those nasty, uncomfortable seats.
 
The Dreaded Entertainment Box Seat
 
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You board your plane, find your seat, and trying to find where you should stash your carry-ons. The overhead bin might already be full, but you still check it anyway, and as luck would have it, its full. Now, there’s no choice but to stow your bags under the seat. But then you realize that there’s no room under the seat, and you can’t stretch your legs or put your bags there. An ugly metal case takes up all the room – the box that houses entertainment equipment. It’s huge enough to take up all your leg room and storage room. Deal with this seat situation only once and you will realize how precious those extra few inches of leg room are.
 
The Back Section Seats
 
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The back section seats are the ones located right in front of a galley or a long bank of washrooms. If you’re somewhat normal and prefer to have a seat that actually reclines, hate having your seat kicked by anyone, and want a comfortable journey, then stay far away from the back section seats whenever possible.
 
The Seat Beside The Main Exit Door
 
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If you want lots of legroom, then this seat might seem perfect. However, if you’re someone with a normal height, then you might want to think twice before considering this option. This seat is considered prime real estate by many people, but occupying it is not exactly a walk in the park. There will be no seat in front of you, which means no underseat storage. You will end up stuffing everything into the overhead bins during takeoffs and landings. You will definitely have less seat width. Moreover, the solid metal armrests take up space because they are used to stow tray tables. And another thing that will count against this seat: the air by the door is colder, so you will likely be feeling chillier as time passes.
 
The Broken Seat
 
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Travel on a plane enough times and you will be bound to encounter a seat that is broken. It might lean at an awkward angle or jiggles and the bolts might make weird noises. Or, it may be that the reclining movement is jammed and has an uncomfortable angle. More often than not, the earphone jack or the cellphone charger connector is acting up. Of all the unfortunate seat situations, this one might be the worst because you can’t plan your way out of this one. The best case scenario is that you complain and perhaps get a better seat assigned. However, it seems like broken seats and filled-to-capacity flights go hand in hand.
 
Seats Near the Washroom
 
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The icky aromas should be enough to keep you away from these seats. Even if you take the odd scents out of the equation, these seats are still some of the worst available in the cabin. The main reason for this is that there will always be a long line of people waiting for the bathrooms to free up. And most of these people apparently leave their manners at the cabin door. Perhaps there is something about the cramped space and long delays that makes people act impatient. Whatever it is, you will face a constant stream of people who lean over your seat and hold it to steady themselves. Your poor shoulder will end up colliding with a lot of random bodies as they try to navigate the two way traffic in the aisles. Oh, and the loud conversations that take place will keep ensure that your peace is disturbed.
 
The Slightly Separated Window Seat
 
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These kinds of seats are usually found in the last back rows of some planes. They may seem like a dream compared to the cramped spaces in the other rows. They’re more spacious and the middle seat is nowhere to be found. But before you thank your lucky stars, think a little. The space between the plane wall and the seat is wide, so wide that you won’t be able to lean over to sleep. The little extra room is nice. You can even stash your luggage there. But that is only possible if the person behind you hasn’t already claimed it first. Or may be someone decided that the little gap is the perfect place to stretch their legs. If this happens, then you will be stuck with some stranger’s malodorous feet in your vision during the entirety of the flight. This will make the long flight seem twice as long.
 
The Misaligned Window Seat
 
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The promise made is that you will be provided a “window seat.” When you get there, you do see a seat and a window as well, but both of these things don’t line up. Many planes have seat configurations that will place some seats halfway between windows. This is no fun for someone who likes to look out while flying. This also creates an uncomfortable lighting issue: the lights from the front seat will peek into your line of sight and you won’t have any control over the brightness. In the event this happens, get a good eye-mask to block out the light.
 
Stuck in the Last Row
 
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Make the mistake of sitting in the last row of the plane and you will find seats that refuse to recline, questionable aromas wafting in your direction at all times, and a crowd of people waiting for the bathrooms will be in your face as well. Does that sound like a spot that you want to spend a long flight on? No sane person does, and when the flight is finally over, you mentally congratulate yourself on surviving the journey, only to face a wall of people that are rushing to disembark. So here’s a tip: stay in your seat for ten minutes after the seatbelt sign dings, let other people leave the plane first, then glide along the aisles.
 
Between Different Seat Arrangements
 
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The first rows in the sections where the number of seats changes, goes from four to three or three to two, those seats are best avoided. The configuration of seats is altered when the plane size tapers off. This results in reduced legroom. The seat anchors will occupy the space that should otherwise have been empty. You will end up encroaching your neighbor’s space to store and retrieve the stuff you placed under the seat. You’re body will start aching pretty soon because you have to twist to reach your allotted legroom.
 
Seats in Front of Exit Rows
 
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The seats in the exit rows have a lot of legroom. This extra space comes at the expense of making the rows in front of it narrower. The exit rows have to remain clear in case of emergencies. That is the way planes are designed. The row in front of the exit rows are terribly uncomfortable, the seats recline only a tiny amount, or don’t recline at all. It makes perfect sense from the point of view of safety. You know what makes even more sense? Staying away from those seats if you’re given the choice.
 
The Middle Seat
 
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Better known as the Dreaded Middle Seat or the DMS, getting stuck in this seat is what true misery feels like. You have lost the seat assignment game so badly if you are given the middle seat. On flights of airlines that follow a non-assignment procedure, you will witness the panicked looks of people who board late and try to look around for any seat other than the DMS. If you’re flying with airlines that assign seats, you will notice that the DMS is always the last to be claimed, probably because the person didn’t have a choice. The later you book your flight, the more likely it is that you will spend your flight sandwiched between two people. The journey will be an epic battle for the armrest, and will require gymnastic maneuvering on your part to grab the extra inches of the seat space from your neighbors.
 
The Bulkhead Rows
 
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Some people might consider the bulkhead as the first class section of economy. What they fail to realize is that these come with a set of drawbacks. They shell out extra money for these coveted spots only to discover that this dream seat disappoints. As with all seats that are by the main exit, the bulkheads also lack under-seat storage space. That means you will be forced to stash your gear during those long stretches of time around landing and takeoffs. Another issue is that these have a slightly smaller seat width, something to do with the way the tray-table fits into the arm rest apparently. You will spend the time sitting face-to-face with a wall. And finally that extra space you have? Most people will use it as a cut-through route and will trample all over your personal space as they try to get through to the opposite side.
 
So what exactly can you do to avoid this seat nightmare? We suggest you head over to the handy little site called, Seat Guru. You can use this service to look up various airlines and planes, and figure out which seats to stay away from during your travels.
 

 

British Airways’ Experiments with Happiness Blanket

British Airways’ Happiness Blanket: In Search of “A Good Flight’s Sleep”
 
The first time someone flies, it is all about excitement and discovering something new. Well sadly, it does not take more than that first flight to know that flying isn’t romantic or thrilling at all, and is instead a pretty drab affair! Then, as the frequency of our travels increase, we begin to hate flights more and there comes a time when we simply cannot take it anymore. The jetlag, the monotony, the tasteless food and more disconcerting elements simply get to you.
 
Well, if this is how you feel, you can find some solace in the fact that British Airways is looking for innovative ways to change all this, all with the help of a blanket!
 
The idea
 
The main idea behind the happiness blanket experiment conducted by British Airways was to find ways to help its passengers experience a more comfortable flight experience, along with a peaceful sleep. While jetlag is a primary reason for fliers to hate flying, some airlines have adopted new ways to make the journey as comfortable as possible and this experiment is yet another one in this direction. Apart from the sleep factor, the airline also wished to learn about the elements that relax a passenger, thus helping it adopt these measures while minimizing the areas that are disturbing.
 
What is this happiness blanket anyway?
 
Well, for starters, it is just like a normal blanket a passenger usually uses on a flight, except that it is equipped with cutting edge technology, such as neural sensors. Tagged as the ‘Happiness Blanket’ this one was handed to passengers on a London-New York flight as part of an experiment to see how the moods and comfort levels of passengers changed while in the air.
 
Woven with LED lights that glowed in colors ranging from red to blue the wireless blankets came with neural headbands that gave out Bluetooth signals transmitting changing emotional levels. Red indicated disturbing neural patterns and blue indicated a relaxed composure, the changes allowing researchers to study the times when a person in flight is most relaxed, or the most disturbed.
 
So what did British Airways learn?
 
The happiness blanket experiment certainly helped British Airways learn a few things about passengers and their emotional relaxation as well as sleep patterns. Here’s a lowdown.

  • Passengers were tense in the initial stages of the flight and took a while to settle down and relax
  • Good food increased the comfort levels of passengers
  • The variety of in-flight entertainment changed moods too
  • Sleep was the biggest factor for relaxation

 
Now, equipped with some well-researched firsthand knowledge, British Airways hopes to make relevant changes and improvements to the in-flight experience of passengers. So the next time you get into plane, you may not be handed blankets that light up, but you just might notice some welcome changes to help you relax and sleep well!