According to IATA’s latest Passenger Forecast, by 2034 the number of air travelers worldwide is expected to double and reach more than 6bn per year. However, despite our increasing confidence in aviation technology and a growing dependence on air travel solutions, there is still a sizeable number of passengers who feel real discomfort as soon as they step on board an aircraft. So what is flying still considered the worst nightmare for many people? Can such factors as interior colors, design features and inflight entertainment systems influence comfort during a flight?
Based on multiple surveys, one of the top factors which commonly compromises our ability to relax on an aircraft is other passengers sitting nearby. All the way back in the late 19th century, French psychologist Gustave Le Bon observed humans in crowds acting in accordance with the so-called “herd behavior”. We all tend to act the same way without a clear direction when we find ourselves in large groups. With that in mind, it is no wonder that it may be nearly impossible to loosen up whilst on-board, where any one of the 200+ passengers may start acting out or showing signs of panic. By the way, this is more common than you might think, as the number of such cases topped 8,000 in 2013 alone, according to IATA. And there are numerous reasons why people get agitated on airplanes, including stress, fear, anxiety or even anger. Regardless of the nature of the distress, the reaction that follows can often easily spread to other passengers.
Furthermore, such common hassles as waiting in long queues at the airport, overcrowded aircraft and sitting next to a stranger can all add up to an unpleasant experience. That’s probably why airlines were ranked so low in the 2014 American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), only a tad higher than local and federal governments and internet and TV providers. Meanwhile, in contrast to commercial carriers which have difficulty in reducing the stress of their passengers, private aviation has long been an industry with an exclusive focus on its consumers’ needs.
Business aviation is what people choose when they opt for an exquisite and undisturbed experience. Nothing is as important as passengers’ safety and utmost comfort. Such design gurus as Donatello Versace and Brabus have contributed to the process of designing private jets to match every possible need and ensure maximum customer satisfaction. Prompted by the increasing demand and appreciation of private flying, even such industry giants as Airbus and Boeing are jumping in by establishing their own private jet divisions. It is a clear sign that exquisite interiors, inflight entertainment and more are now a must to ensure maximum comfort and a positive feeling on-board. And that’s the area where business aviation excels in.
In the meantime, while business aviation seems to be finding ways to eliminate passenger anxiety, commercial carriers are still struggling. The most recent survey by YouGov and the Economist has found that the number of US citizens who aren’t afraid to fly fell to its lowest point (41%) in 30 years, following the Germanwings tragedy in the French Alps. Nonetheless, according to psychologists, many of these anxieties and fears could be eliminated by the correct use of colors, design features and entertainment systems, ensuring the utmost comfort for every passenger.
One of the mostly frequently cited causes of fear is the unfamiliar sounds heard when on board an aircraft. Despite this presumption, a study by the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg has found that in 73.3% of all cases airline passengers select low-pitched ‘pleasant loudness’ as the most important attribute of a comfortable flight. In addition, multiple psychological theories suggest that other senses also play a significant role in the overall enjoyment of a flight.
For instance, our sight may also influence our flight experience. Dr Toby Israel, an expert in design psychology, suggests that the psychological impact of visual design stimuli can have a perceptible physical effect on aircraft passengers. In fact, even such factors as color schemes can play games with passengers’ minds. For example, it has been found that travelers can find themselves feeling cold in cool-toned areas, such as blue or purple, whereas warm-toned rooms can create an opposite effect, even though the temperatures might be exactly the same. This is astounding when you take into consideration how differently commercial carriers choose to arrange their interiors.
Despite the fact that the commercial airline industry has acknowledged the issue with the recent news about American Airlines’ plans to invest over US$2bn in customer improvements, it is still lagging far behind. Private jets have always been designed according to clients’ needs, with no resources spared when it comes to making flights as pleasant as possible. According to GoGo, besides safety, inflight entertainment services are cited as the most critical by private travelers. Business aviation is in full understanding of such needs and no factor is compromised in favor of another. Being aware of customers’ needs and ensuring they travel in the utmost comfort, with unique design and all-round service, are the elements that travelers are looking for nowadays. And no one would dare say that in terms of these elements business aviation is below 100%.
About Kapitonov and KlasJet:
Vitalij Kapitonov is CEO of KlasJet, a European charter carrier, specializing in private and corporate charter flights as well as comprehensive aircraft management solutions. With its own fleet of business jets, the carrier is based in Vilnius, Lithuania, as well as at airports across Russia, Eastern Europe and the CIS.