15.1.14

REDEFINING THE ROLLING TENEMENT.

Thus did railroad executive Robert R. Young characterize the Pullman open section sleeper as part of an effort to improve passenger train service on the Chesapeake and Ohio and across the country.


You are looking at the ten open sections of a ten-section, drawing-room, two-compartment sleeper in preservation at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay.  There were two communal rest rooms at the end of the corridor.  By day, the occupant of the upper sat in the backward-facing seat, and the occupant of the lower faced forward.  Under military transport regulation, two smaller men shared the lower and a heavier man had the upper to himself.

QUIET

IS REQUESTED FOR THE BENEFIT
OF THOSE WHO HAVE RETIRED

Today, the rolling tenement flies through the air, with the greatest of unease to passengers.
Changes are happening now, as major U.S. carriers look for new ways to pump up profits by either adding to or reducing the number of coach seats, increasing legroom or cutting the distance between rows.

You might call it a game of aeronautical chairs that will directly affect passenger comfort, convenience and cost.

Two experts with inside knowledge of the airline seat industry-- a vice president at a seat manufacturer and a nationally recognized expert in the study of body measurements -- recently talked frankly about some of the reasons behind the anger and discomfort.

Are the seats getting smaller? Closer together? Are passengers getting bigger? Are we getting angrier?

Well, no. Yes. Yes. And it's unclear.
For a fee, however, a passenger can purchase additional space.
Over the past few years carriers have been moving toward a standard of charging more for seats with extra legroom.

These include seats in the forward coach cabins and emergency aisles that used to cost the same as other economy class seats. Also, some airlines have reconfigured seats to add a bit more legroom in certain aisles, for a price.
With electronic ticketing and check-in, the ritual of inking in the reservation diagram and "Right in here, sir" gives way to the cattle chute called the boarding process. But the roomiest of first-class seats is still a holding cell compared even to walkover seats on a commuter rail coach.  Not surprisingly, air passengers, even the perpetually active hustlers and business pros who rent from National, resist a change in Federal Communications Commission regulations to allow wireless 'phone use in the air.
"I think a bunch of people talking on a crowded plane on a long flight would be a complete nightmare," said Pete Seel, an associate professor of journalism at Colorado State University who flies frequently and was one of the first to comment. "I think it's a terrible idea."

The FCC voted in December to consider lifting its 1991 prohibition against cellular service on flights because planes can carry cell towers that limit interference with ground-based communications. The official 60-day comment period begins Wednesday, when the FCC publishes its proposal in the Federal Register. The comments indicate the visceral reaction that the FCC proposal generates among airliner passengers, a hurdle the agency faces.

But even before the commission debates the technical merits, passengers vented their emotional opposition to being crammed into a confined space next to people talking loudly on phones.

"I think the key is that in communications technology, the rate of change is so fast, etiquette concerning it is always going to be chasing it, just as legislation concerning telecommunications is always chasing technology," Seel told USA TODAY.

Several people recalled seeking the "quiet car" on trains to avoid calls, but feared there would be no way to quarantine callers on a plane.

"Cellphones have no place on an airplane," said Sydney Horn, a retired lawyer from Lake Charles, La. "I don't care to listen to someone talking while I am flying."
Yes. Most of the conversations on trains are inane to the screaming point.  Eight hours of it, coast-to-coast, after two hours of screening and being herded out of the stock pen boarding area and on board, and then the scrum to retrieve carry-ons and wait to unload through the one door.  Spare me.

The rolling tenement begins to look good after that.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Airborne Hotel, or perhaps the sixteen section sleeper that flies.


Artist's conception of Airborne Hotel, courtesy The Airline Blog.

In the steam era, you'd have a Saturday Evening Post or perhaps the latest Hemingway opus along, and rather than consult the map display on the console, you'd roll up the shade when the train stopped:

  J O H N S T O W N  

Eight good hours of shut-eye westbound, getting back to sleep for any decent rest before breakfast eastbound will be difficult.  Especially if you're a train enthusiast, with the crossing of the Mountain and Horseshoe Curve ahead.

To make good use of cabin space, take a page from the Pullman planbook.
The design’s functionality is based on the bi-level configuration of its seating modules, which enables the utilization of the otherwise empty overhead space in an aircraft cabin.

Each module is designed to weigh about the same as a conventional airplane seat; this is possible because the modules’ honeycomb structure allows for multiple points of anchoring and fastening to the aircraft’s fuselage, thus enabling the use of lighter materials.

Another element of the design is its unique implementation of three aisles throughout the passenger cabin; this feature is essential to the design’s efficiency, and also increases corridor space by 50%.

Having taken into account the precise dimensions of an Airbus A380 cabin, the system’s designers put together several abh layouts in three-class arrangements for this specific type of aircraft; the most efficient of these layouts can accommodate as many as 580 passengers–that’s 25 more seats than the standard 555 seat configuration for a three-class arrangement in an A380.
That's the same idea as the Slumbercoach, which staggers private single rooms above and below, in order to sleep 40 people, which compares favorably to the 48 seats of an overnight coach on a Western streamlined train.  There are concepts for air-sleepers that do stagger the uppers and lowers.

But if you put the uppers in the space ordinarily used by the overhead luggage bins, does each section get a mesh netting for holding small objects (and for pranking rookie baseball pitchers)?  And will the sleeping attendants wear white jackets and be presented with tips?

The Germans have their own ideas for configuring the sleeping space.


Artist's conception courtesy Upgrade Travel Better.

Imagine the scene when the plane reaches the gate.  Alle rausgehen!  Mach schnell!  'Raus!  Raus!

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