Monday, January 28, 2013

When cool design is bad design - Air Canada Executive/First


I am traveling from Montreal to Frankfort on Air Canada 's new executive first class seat (more like a pod).  At first I was impressed by the cool and seemingly futuristic design of these diagonal seats capable of flattening completely to ensure a decent night of sleep.

Before take-off one of my business partners made a request for us to be seating next to each other (after all we are three business people going to Germany to close on a deal).  This was the first issue; the seats do not provide any passenger-to-passenger interaction due to their 45 degree angle and encasing.   They are designed for isolation.  First mistake!

Then comes the takeoff.  A 45 degree angled g-force that causes an uneven weight distribution during take-off and the ascent.   You are pushed against the panel, and your back muscles wrestle to find a symmetrical position.  Second mistake; comfort.

Once in the air, your tray table keeps you prisoner in your seat as  you do not have to ability to push the tray forward to slide sideways to go to the bathroom.  Third mistake feeling trapped.

Then come the ergonomics of the usable space.  The control side has an armrest that can not be lifted for you to access objects that you might have stored.  The opposing side's armrest can be lifted but collides with the tray table, and makes it difficult to store a laptop and close it for elbow use.  The seat is not too narrow, and the privacy panels make the space very claustrophobic and uncomfortable to navigate and store objects if you want to work.  The touch-screen entertainment system is not within arm's reach unless you sit-up and reach forward.   The control panel blue lights are at eye-level when lying down, and they are disruptive when all is dark.  Fourth mistake is the storage and features' ease-of-use.   

In summary, very poor design.  Now let's look at it from the airline's perspective.   First, the economics;  by eliminating first class and giving business class sleeping comfort, by compromising on space and the diagonal positions of the pods, the airline is making more money by seat.  From a crew's perspective, the passengers are more likely to remain in place during service and sleep.   I personally hate this configuration and if I do not need to sleep exclusively, and travel with my team, I will book economy tickets to interact and not feel trapped.

3 comments:

Albert George said...

I must appreciate your effort for this great sharing .
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Anonymous said...

I'm always impressed with how each of us is one of a kind in terms of likes and dislikes. . . I recently flew London to Toronto in a pod and LOVED the privacy and self-containment :-) Putting the the tray back in it's slot was no big deal for me, though I'm only 70 years old and can do these kinds of things with ease ;-)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm always impressed with how each of us is one of a kind in terms of likes and dislikes. . . I recently flew London to Toronto in a pod and LOVED the privacy and self-containment :-) Putting the the tray back in it's slot was no big deal for me, though I'm only 70 years old and can do these kinds of things with ease ;-)

April 13, 2014 12:09 PM