Airlines are notorious for being a profit loss industry. Southwest Airlines shone above its competitors because it narrowed the boundaries of its business and it focused on customer convenience. Prices were made comparable to the price to drive to a destination because executives considered the private cars their competitors instead of other airlines. Southwest did not serve food, flights were short, and there were not class seating or assigned seats. Employees were hired based on their sense of humor, personality, and dedication to service. Employees felt a sense of ownership in the company, which resulted in better customer service. Customers travelled Southwest more frequently and they recommended it to others. Southwest generated a profit by lowering operating costs. The boarding process, the fuel purchasing model, and other processes were investigated and made more efficient by experimentation. Profit was not generated by diminishing passenger comfort (beyond reasonable losses, such as eliminating meals on short flights).
Some of Southwest’s competitors are failing to learn from their model. Rather than improving their operating models or improving customer service to lure in more customers, they are attempting to profit by diminishing the flight experience. Airline seating is already cramped and boring. Boeing is now fitting more people onto their planes by cramping the seats even closer together. Other creative solutions are even less comfortable. Airbus patented a seating design that maximize cabin seating by forcing passengers to sit in chairs that consist of a bicycle seat and a “computer chair” style back. The seats are cramped onto support beams and separated by a single armrest.
Zodiac Seats, an industry leader in the manufacturing of airplane seats, patented a model of seats that maximize cabin space by forcing passengers to stare directly at each other for the entire trip. These seats lock passengers in a hexagon or zipper formation. Space is maximized by effectively removing leg room and forcing passengers to rub knees with each other.
In all three models, profit would be gained by forcing more passengers onto the plane. Seating will be uncomfortable for everyone. It may not even be possible for people who are obese or too tall. Cramming as many passengers as possible into a metal can is neither safe nor advisable. Other solutions exist. In contrast to increase profit by carrying more passengers, Southwest accomplished the same goal by decreasing layover time. Other companies should follow their example and seek more effective creative solutions.
Alex Schmidt, Alex. “The 4 Ways We Travel in the Modern World (Are About to Suck).” Cracked. 18 November 2015. Cracked.com. Web. http://www.cracked.com/video_19596_4-imminent-tech-advances-that-will-make-travel-nightmare.html.
Golson, Jordan. “Hey Look The Most Nightmarish Idea for Plane Seating Ever.” Wired. 9 July 2015. Wired.com. Web. http://www.wired.com/2015/07/hey-look-nightmarish-idea-plane-seating-ever/.