How far will public relations go to get an airline in the media?

AIRLINES, as with all large businesses, employ Public Relations and Marketing Companies to sell their brand and services to the Public.

This season it appears that the major carriers are using their flight crews to persuade us to fly with them.

Cathay Pacific shows us Nigel a senior training captain who claims to love flying and Taiwanese stewardesses performing geisha style acts both in the cabin and the terminal. Then there’s British Airways showing us pilots flying the company aircraft throughout the history of BA.

The no frills carriers limit their advertising, usually in newspapers, to telling us how cheap they are. However there is one no frills airline –  which I will not name – whose PR Company have different ideas. This carrier has released many proposed operational changes that could never or will never get off the ground; let’s look at some of these.

The removal of seats and have passengers standing, albeit that they had some sort of straps, must have been an April fool’s joke. The charging for the use of the toilets by having a slot machine at the door falls into the same category.

Over two years ago it was announced by this airline that it proposed to remove the two rear toilets of its fleet of Boeing 737-800s and fit six more seats. This proposal was again released by the PR company recently and reported once more in various dailies. There are countless reasons why this will not work and here are a few.

The 737-800 with four doors and four over wing escape windows is certified to carry a maximum of 189 passengers; this airline already has 189 seats fitted. More seats would most likely attract the requirement of another escape hatch except there’s no space to fit one.

Have you noticed there are no windows in aircraft toilets? If a triple seat unit was to be fitted to that area with out fitting a window it would be rejected by passengers. The Concorde was originally designed with no windows but market research showed no one would fly in it.

Seats on aircraft are attached to the floor on seat tracks  which are further attached to the floor beams and this attachment is tested to 9Gs. These seat tracks would have to be extended rearwards.

Overhead lockers would have to be installed and electrical and air conditioning wiring and trunking would have to be rerouted. Flight control operating cables also may have to be moved.  The designing and implementing these major structural and systems modifications, including certification, would be virtually impossible and prohibitively expensive in both time and money.

It can be done of course by redesigning the aircraft at production, but, would a manufacturer run a 200 unit batch of such a modified aircraft, that no other airline would order nor would the aircraft have any value in the second hand market.

This is definitely a PR stunt and I would say to BA and Cathay, don’t change your PR team and to passengers who continue to fly with this airline there will be no long queues at the single toilet or the offer of expensive incontinence pants at the check in desk.


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