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Tuesday AM March 16th, 2010

Airline passenger satisfaction often hinges on creature comforts provided by the airline, whether it’s food quality, in-flight services or more leg room. The task of creating a better passenger experience starts with the plane’s maker. Ed Mayberry reports.


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Boeing logoBoeing has researched how airlines can improve customer service, scheduling and amenities.  The manufacturer has studied the psychology of so-called “inarticulated needs” of people in closed spaces.  Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner has been designed to bring the magic back to the flight experience.  Boeing’s Ken Price says the new 787 is made of composites rather than aluminum.

“But another thing about composites is that we can put giant windows in the airplane.  The size of windows in an aluminum airplane is limited. Also we found people do not like airplanes that are claustrophobic.  So we designed the 787 and we used the lighting and the shape of the fuselage and the way we designed the bins to really create an outdoor scene.  We have blue lights overhead.  We have bright white lights on the bins, so it clicks the subconscious that you’re outside, you’re not in an enclosed space.”

Larger stowage bins, electrochromatic window shades on larger windows and redesigned lavatories with easier access are part of the new design, which also extends to other Boeing models.

“Companies, when times get tough, they focus on costs.  Cut costs at all costs.  You need to focus on the revenue, too.  And I’m talking soley about what we have done and what we are doing to help airlines earn more money.  There’s plenty of people worrying about cutting costs.  We’re trying to change the mindset of the industry that there really are benefits to treating passengers a lot better, and that brings demand and revenue.  And it’s appropriate that we’re in the hometown of Continental Airlines because they’re one the the airlines that always have gotten it.”

There are four 787 Dreamliners being flight-tested.  Houston-based Continental Airlines plans to roll out the 787 on some of its flights later this year.

Price in Boeing Dreamliner cabin