Tag Archives: covid flights

No more carry on

Well the news that Alitalia is banning use of the overhead bins for flights into Italy is interesting and is sure to spread to other airlines. The reason of course is the enhanced safety protocols because of COVID. The thinking is that this will cut down the time that people spend standing in the aisle while everyone tries to fit oversized bags into the overhead bins. This makes perfect sense and the subject of carryon is one that can stir deep passions in people – either the carriers or the carry on haters.

The carriers say that they love the overhead bins and never check a suitcase. This is probably very true for business travellers who maybe only have one overnight and a day full of meetings. They want to be able to get on and get off with their bag and get the hell out of the airport and off to their meeting.

The carry on haters say that people bring too much onto a plane and it takes too long to board and too long to deplane. In addition there have been occasions when someone’s too heavy suitcase falls out of the overhead bin and bonks someone else on the head. Then we have our teeny tiny short person with a super heavy carry on bag. Now this usually tends to be a woman – because women are shorter than men usually – and being a short woman I can say this. Trying to get that heavy bag up into the overhead bin is hard if not impossible. Most carry on bags these days have handles and buckles and wheels – none of this is easy.

Whichever camp you fall into I can bet anything you have been irritated at least once in your travel life by either getting on the plane late and finding all the overhead bins full or getting to your designated seat in the front part of the plane only to find that some doofus has put his bag in your overhead bin while he toddles off to his seat at the back (which is why he was boarded first). The cheekiest of all overhead binners is of course the one who books economy but sticks his bag in the overhead bin in business class. Good try!

There are those who vow never to check a suitcase again after having lost one holding treasured possessions and favourite pj’s (never to be found again and probably auctioned off in a warehouse somewhere on the other side of the world). There are the others who like the flexibility of travelling with one small suitcase for their vacation (and wearing the same clothes every day for 3 weeks). I have done that before, and say that with pride. One carry on bag for three weeks holiday in Ireland. Shoes are the biggest problem because they are bulky but I did it nevertheless. Of course when I got home I immediately burnt the entire contents as I never wanted to see those clothes again.

It will be interesting to see which airlines follow suit. One thing I should point out is that as this overhead bin ban (wow that could be a hip hop song) was mandated by the Italian Government the airline is waiving its checked luggage fee. Now at least there is some silver lining!

New airline seats – new rules

The travel advisory has not yet been lifted but the airlines are getting ready for you – and they can’t wait! But it is going to be a little different. From the little that we have seen so far of what it is like to fly during COVID-19, it is apparent that flying is not going to be the same. Masks are required – naturally and in flight service is just not there. Instead a bag on your seat with hand sanitizer, face mask and a bottle of water awaits. But what about social distancing?

Well, as there is not a great demand right now for flights it is easy for the airlines to keep half the seats vacant so as to give some semblance of social distancing but the problem with that is simple economics. There is no way an airline can operate permanently with half loads. Some creative designers are coming up with ways to make our flights more comfortable and “spaced out”.

How about a double storey aircraft – half the seats on the higher level with access via a little ladder and the other half underneath? Everyone gets to stretch out and space out. This design has attracted the interest of several airlines. Would you like to travel like this?

I think it looks like you would have to find somewhere else to stow your carry on luggage – but this could be the answer.

Another designer has come up with this idea called the Janus seat (named after the two faced Roman god). This idea looks pretty good to me.

There’s a lot of plexi glass there to clean which is my only concern but it does give a bit of a better situation for the poor middle-seater. But then again maybe not. Can you see how the middle seat person is basically looking face to face with the person sitting next to them. It would make for some awkward eye contact moments. Experts don’t really think these new designs will take off. Airline seating has rigorous testing to go through – as Will Horton comments in his article in Forbes Magazine –

“New aircraft seats have to withstand a 16g dynamic force. A roller coaster has forces about 4g and a Formula One car 6g. The plastic barriers have to be strong enough to remain intact, but not so hard they could cause injury if a passenger’s head suddenly crashes into it.”

So maybe this is just another whimsical journey of aircraft designers for ideas that never really take off (‘scuse the pun). Like the saddle style standing seats. We saw a lot of interest in these but not a single airline purchased or installed them. The seats look like a bicycle saddle

You wouldn’t want to do a long flight on these puppies!

And the other new rule of course – wearing a mask – which might be difficult on a long flight and certainly difficult for flight attendants when someone chooses to be an ass and refuses to wear one for no good reason. Like the guy who got thrown off an American Airlines plane for refusing to wear one. He kept 122 passengers waiting while he argued with the flight attendant and when she said it was the rule he said it was not a Federal rule. She basically said to him “my house, my rules, get off”. He was very indignant and has now been banned from flying American Airlines.

So masks are no doubt going to be part of our lives for a while now – although it is hit and miss these days. Half the people in the supermarket with masks and the other half not. And for those with a sense of humour? Well there is no end to what can be used for a face mask …

Could this be the end of the middle seat?

Airlines are now offering flights with the middle seat unoccupied so as to try and maintain some kind of social distancing. It isn’t really far enough apart to constitute the 6 feet needed but better than nothing. In fact for those of us who have flown in crowded planes squashed in the middle seat it is a real bonus.

But will this continue? Is this how things are going to be from now on, forever and ever, happily ever after? I don’t think so. There are a few problems with this scenario and the most obvious is that there is no way they can get enough people on board a plane leaving the middle seat vacant and still be able to cover the costs of the flight.

So for the time being there are flights happening around the world but very limited – some only domestic and a few international. If you are curious this is the listing as of yesterday

https://www.routesonline.com/news/tagged/8446/covid19-1h20-flight-changes/

When we get back to “normal” whatever that is going to look like – there will no doubt be changes to airline travel but those changes are going to have to be in keeping with the economic needs of the airlines and the passengers. As nice as it would be to never have a middle seat on a flight again I doubt this will happen.

So what changes can the airlines make? Well there will probably be lots of health checks both at check in and on the flight. Pity the poor soul with a genuine case of allergies or a tickle in the back of the throat. They might find themselves deplaned. There will be lots of masks – we have seen that already – and lots of wiping down with sanitizer. How many times have you seen the person next to you wiping down the tray table and armrests. Yep – they are smart people. I have a whole bunch of unused sanitized wipes in my travel bag – I will definitely be using them next time.

There is talk that airlines will change the seating – at least maybe with new aircraft. Talk of perspex divisions between seats. That would be a good idea – and another area to wipe down at the beginning of a flight. And also maybe a change of the configuration – one such suggestion like this

And this one

Don’t touch that arm rest !!!