Welcome to Episode 026 of the #PaxEx Podcast. Our guest for this episode is John Walton, an international aviation journalist who writes for several industry titles, including Australian Aviation, AirwaysNews and Runway Girl Network. A contributing editor at RGN, John also pens our popular Opinion column, Up Front.
Aircraft interiors – and the vital role they play in shaping the passenger experience (#PaxEx) – have frequented the headlines of late. British Airways, for instance, has announced it is installing a first class cabin on its Boeing 787-9s – an indication that the airline continues to see first class as a linchpin of its future longhaul fleet. Co-hosts Max Flight and Mary Kirby talk to John about the bells and whistles of this particular first class product, and why BA intends to offer first on the 787-9 at a time when so many carriers are removing this class of service. We also discuss whether it makes sense for BA to add inflight connectivity to the aged Boeing 747s that are earmarked for a major makeover to see them through their end of life.
Next, Airbus recently revealed that it is working on a new interior for the A350 XWB that will enable the airframer to offer 10-abreast seating in economy class with seats just shy of 17 inches wide (very close to the same sized seats as found in economy class of the Boeing 787). But in a recent interview Airbus revealed that no airlines have picked this configuration yet. We talk about why some travelers are breathing a sigh of relief.
And last but not least, we chat with John about some of United Airlines’ recent #PaxEx improvements, namely its decision to personalize the travel experience with crew tablets, and the changes it is making to its soft product. John explains why he believes United is putting “lipstick on a pig” by gussying up its soft product to distract from its less-than-optimal hard seating product in international business.