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    Turn this crazy bird around

    Wow. Imagine being confined to an airliner for 18 hours, and then stepping out and finding yourself at Newark Airport. Of such forebearance is innovation born. I’m not entirely sure I could stand it, though. I take three or so trips out of Japan per year, all but one of which usually involves a flight of 10 to 12 hours. These flights tend to activate what my old boss calls the Rule of Seven: A man can keep himself amused on a passenger jet for 7 hours, tops, before he’s ready to go bananas from cabin fever. Totally true in my case.

    Besides the sheer patience-shredding length of today’s Singapore Airlines flight, the interesting thing is that the Airbus used was configured to hold fewer than 200 passengers. A lot of recent stories about developments in passenger jets have suggested that the future is not in monster 700-seaters but in smaller jets that go longer distances. I suppose one big issue is that any weight occupied by passengers can’t be used for the fuel needed to travel for 18 hours, so once you get above the capacity and distance of a 747, you have to keep making tradeoffs. It will be of interest to see whether and how this new Singapore-New York route affects the way Asian airlines compete for customers.

    2 Responses to “Turn this crazy bird around”

    1. Kris says:

      This is very interesting to me for two reasons.
      I have seen multiple ads for this new flight, multiple times, in multiple formats. Anytime this happens, rather than make me want to buy or try something, it makes me think about target demographics, and how I may be in one. Which interests me only in that it means I must be grouped in somehow (age, income, viewing/reading habits, location) with folks who are more likely than normal to take a flight to singapore. Or, perhaps, like when microsoft rolls out a new product, I’m just a part of the whole. It’s always easier to tell when the product is something like, oh say, Secret anti-prespirant. Which clearly I’m not ACTUALLY in the market for, but share a lot of characteristics with the traditional demo, in that I watch a lot of the WB, enjoy the Ellen show, and like to stay fresh and dry all day.
      Of additional interest is that I’ve seen a lot of ads for this flight ON CNN. I wonder how it is that the article got placement on their website?

    2. Sean says:

      Well, everyone’s in multiple target categories. Knowing what I know of you, I’d say you’re not a bad person for Singapore Airlines to be going after.
      As far as the CNN connection goes, here in Tokyo the average CNNj broadcast hour includes at least one airline spot each from Singapore, Thai, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia, and (lately) Vietnam. The first three already have established international presence among travelers. Malaysia Airlines wins a lot of awards for its super-luxe treatment in first class, but Malaysia hasn’t been having much success with establishing KLIA as an international shipping/transport hub. Bangkok and Singapore are cheaper and everyone already uses them, and Hong Kong is still a major destination for business in and of itself.
      What I’ve always found interesting is that, despite being tiger economies with expertise in engineering, Korea and Taiwan have airlines with far lower reputations than developing countries such as Thailand and Malaysia. Korean Air is just prone to near-misses and rumors of bad pilot morale, but China Airlines actually, you know, crashes all the time. A close friend who lives in Taipei thinks part of the problem may be the Taiwanese tendency to use things until they fall apart before replacing them. She also says that, in a lot of jobs, you more or less get credit just for showing up to work, with little urgency to do things properly the first time. I think that’s true, actually, of many Asian countries. But in most cases, the national air carrier is considered a way of showing the world that the nation has successfully modernized and industrialized, so it’s held to a standard of perfectionism that may not obtain in the rest of the economy.