Sunday, November 23, 2014

Introducing "Dilbert Class"!

An annoyed passenger in 5F, 1st Class, American Airlines.  Note the narrowness of the space for entering or leaving.  The aisle armrest descends down at the push of a button, but in an emergency you need to get OUT and futzing with a button that won't work because all of the power is out is ... not a good idea.

AA calls the planes "32B" designating the Airbuses currently in use since January, 2014.  Richie didn't believe his eyes when he looked at the Website and found the total number of passengers possible is only 102.

There are 10 seats in First (pictured below) and another 20 in Business and only 72 in Coach.  But what they lost in Coach they more than compensated by excessive crowding.  Not that I saw it for myself.  When we boarded, we were whisked to our seats with no fanfare and no chance to scope out Business directly behind us. 

And I think a weight factor would have to be thrown in as well.  Even if you could seat say 10 more, the weight might be so much that the plane wouldn't be able to get off of the ground.

The reason for this is that 30 seats on the 32B are self-contained cubicles or "pods" as the airline refers to them.  They are walled and shelved in a rather gloomy shade of dark grey plastic with matching leather seats.  The only bright note in one is the looks-like-oak tray table.   (I promise you, it isn't.)

These cubicles made me think of the cartoon "Dilbert" but looking around for him proved to be a fruitless exercise.  Still "Dilbert Class" would be a more truthful description of this configuration.  I almost expected a male voice saying, "Can you come in here and take a letter?"

At the touch of another button, the TV screen swivels out, angled to accommodate the position of your seat.  And this angle was the biggest complaint I've heard from any critics I've talked to - the chairs are all turned back to the aisle, face to the porthole.  For five hours, my view of Richie was the back of his right shoulder.  And I had to move around to see even that.  It was a stretch to reach across the aisle and hold hands during take-offs and landings.

I mentioned it to a flight attendant and he agreed that civil conversation is difficult, but said that "..the celebrities love it."  The hell with "the celebrities" - let'em charter a private jet and get their languid butts out of Dilbert Class. 

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