Economy class upgrades likely

IMPROVEMENTS AFOOT: Economy class may no longer be referred to as “cattle class” in the future.
IMPROVEMENTS AFOOT: Economy class may no longer be referred to as “cattle class” in the future. Digital Vision

WOMEN-only toilets, sky nannies and meals designed by celebrity chefs are among the remedies airlines are developing to cure the common economy-class complaints.

Flight Centre Limited global executive general manager of marketing Colin Bowman said the in-flight revolution that had delivered double beds, shower spas and other innovations to premium customers was spreading to the back of the plane.

More legroom: Luckily, airlines are starting to offer alternatives for long-limbed customers and those who simply want to stretch out a little further during their journeys.

Options include exit row seats and extra-legroom seats in dedicated economy class sections. American Airlines is one of the latest airlines to opt for the latter strategy.

The Meal High Club: Airlines are appealing to travellers' tastebuds by serving up improved air "fare" in the form of offerings designed by famous chefs and restaurateurs. For example, Virgin's on-board menu was designed by leading chef Luke Mangan, while Neil Perry designed the Qantas in-flight and lounge menu.

Not enough room for hand luggage? Several American airlines, including United and Delta, recently announced plans to introduce larger or upgraded luggage bins.

Long toilet queues: Several Asian carriers, including Korean Air and All Nippon, have introduced women-only toilets on some services. A German design company is reportedly developing plans for in-flight urinals.

The noisy neighbour: Quiet zones on planes could be a feature of the future. In interviews last year, Airbus's engineering chief outlined a cabin-of-the-future design that offered personalised zones which would effectively separate travellers who wanted to socialise from those who wanted to relax.

Help with the kids: Gulf Air offers an innovative free Sky Nanny service "to help families travelling with children, and those passengers who aren't".

Dinner's on me - literally: If you're sick of the neighbour in front unexpectedly dropping in for dinner - courtesy of a poorly-timed seat recline, consider flying Cathay Pacific. Cathay's economy seats recline within a protective shell that doesn't move.

Check-out of check-in queues: Airlines now commonly offer alternatives, including kerbside or city centre check-in.

Airlines have also been quick to capitalise on the popularity of smart phones with many now allowing travellers to access boarding passes from a BlackBerry or iPhone, for example.

And finally … if your biggest in-flight gripe is simply not being able to decide on a game or a movie from the widening range of in-flight entertainment options, you may want to fly Qatar Airways.

The Doha-based airline, which flies to Melbourne and will launch Perth services later this year, will offer enhanced in-flight entertainment, featuring award-winning touch screen Android technology, aboard its 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

>> Read more travel stories.

Topics:  economy flights travel travelling

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