Setting new benchmarks for passenger comfort

Blake Emery

Every day, thousands of passengers in the Middle East will board a flight bound for any one of the hundreds of destinations served by the region’s airlines. For some, the experience will offer nothing out of the ordinary, including the tiredness and jet lag associated with long-haul travel. Others, however, will fare — and feel — better. Blake Emery, Director of Differentiation Strategy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, looks at how innovation has shaped a better passenger experience.
What makes an airplane journey memorable? Was it the comfort of the seat, the quality of service, or the in-flight entertainment? Since the earliest days of air travel, the expectations of the flying public has largely remained unchanged: safety, cabin comfort, and in-flight service.
While flying has never been safer, and airlines in the Middle East have set a high bar for both the quality of service and the standard of their cabins, there was still a need for aircraft manufacturers to step up and further enrich the cabin experience. This wasn’t about building bigger airplanes; it was about designing better ones that rely on innovation and attention to detail to truly improve the passenger journey.
Think about your most recent flight: did you feel a sense of relief after walking down the narrow confines of the jet-way and boarding the aircraft to be greeted by an open area with high ceilings? Did you then comfortably settle into your seat, taking in the roomy cabin around you, instead of crouching to slide down your row, all the while dreading the next few hours? And when you got to your destination, did you feel less tired and jet-lagged than you expected to?
If the answer to all the questions is affirmative, it was very likely that you were experiencing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and its Boeing Sky Interior. The sense of relief you felt when stepping onboard the plane was the result of using an age-old architectural technique — compression and release — commonly employed in the construction of religious monuments and modern hotels. After queuing through the tunnel-like bridge, the aircraft’s entrance is specifically designed to give passengers a psychological sense of relief and space when they board the plane.
The space and comfort you experienced are the results of a wider cabin, the largest windows currently in the sky, sculpted sidewalls for added enhancement, and spacious overhead storage bins which don’t protrude inconveniently over the seats, folding instead into the ceiling and walls. Even the latches on the bins have been given careful consideration and are designed to operate whether a passenger pulls or pushes them, opening the stowage in a carefully timed manner.
The uniquely lower cabin altitude that better matches what your body is used to on the ground, and the human-centric cabin lighting which, depending on the time of the day, will emit soothing hues of the airlines’ choice, helped reduce your tiredness and symptoms commomly associated with jetlag.
Although the flying public will take many of these features for granted, each element of the cabin’s design — however mundane it may seem — is intended to unconsciously appeal to the passengers’ psyche, improving their in-flight well-being. Each aspect is meticulously well-thought-out and refined, using a combination of science, passenger feedback, and practicality, with the goal of contributing to the overall customer experience. Importantly for customers such as Oman Air, which currently operates the 787 Dreamliner, they also complement an airline’s in-flight product and brand.
By placing emphasis on the details that matter to the comfort and well-being of the passenger, we always strive to better that journey for the people who travel on our airplanes.
And when airplanes — such as the Dreamliner and the 777X — set new benchmarks for passenger comfort, they do so entirely by design.