Lately something really bugs me, and this time it is not the "clusterfuck" approach that so many people take to flight planning - usually paired with the good old "interlining with everyone" policy which enhances the impression of randomness thus created. But alas, changing the way others approach the game is not on my list of things to "fix". But Seats and In-Flight-Services are a different matter.
I think that the options that one needs to pick in order to get a 5 star In-Flight-Service are not just unclear, but actually counter-intuitive and downright silly. If I choose "Large Warm Economy Meal" in coach, I will only get a 4 star rating on flights up to 800 kilometer distance - provided the rest of the service is decent; but if I pick "Small Warm Economy Meal" and "Additional Cold Meal", I get a 5 star rating on all flights up until 6800 kilometer distance. That is just insane. I assume that the additional meal here means "additional" meal, served some hours after the first. But then how is this affecting short haul flights, those that only travel for about an hour, maybe two? How is it even possible to serve two meals in one hour? Are we to assume that the average passenger wants to be stuffed full of food, feeling left out and disappointed if he leaves the plane not feeling like throwing-up? Up until now I plainly refused to play along with this nonsense, but with competition mounting (I am playing on quimby), there is nothing I can do but to break immersion and to just pick the "5star option".
Thus, I really think that the way In-Flight-Service is set up and rated needs to be changed. Some ideas to that end:
- More options, and most importantly, making it clear what option effects what.
- It is a good idea to restrict some options, but the restriction should be tied to travel time, not to distance. A turbo-prob plane is much slower, so sure you got more time to serve food and the like.
- Especially on short haul flights, the service level should be capped much earlier. Like in my example above, I think it is ridiculous to serve a second course on flights with a flight time of about an hour. Sure it's nice to have food available to you, but that should be handled via a "snack on demand" option or something similar. A second course should not be necessary to achieve a 5star rating on any flight up to 4 hour flight time (arguably). Then again, I would like to have the option to serve three or even four meals on long and extreme long haul flights.
- Alternatively: Just select an option between 1 and 5 star service, letting the system determine the cost based on the distance (or time) traveled automatically for each flight; of course making the option available on each flight separately. That way the pleasant micro-managing aspect is gone, but I think the system would be much clearer that way.
A second problem are seats. I think here the same applies as for service; it should be capped differently - meaning differently than it is working now - for short haul flights. If I fly for only an hour, I would honestly not care for the difference between "comfort" and "leisure plus". Since I operate my regional fleet with leisure plus seats quite effectively, I feel that this is done in a way, but the problem starts once you move just a tiny bit further. The system is set up in a way, that you effectively have to pick "recliner short-haul" for coach on all planes that operate routes with more than 1200 kilometer flight distance. It scales better than "comfort plus", making it the clearly better option in most cases, and it is just plain better than comfort. But this is the problem. I still use comfort seats, if only because if I would use "recliner short-haul" for coach, I would only manage to get about 120 people into an A321. 120! That is insane! No airline in this world merely gets 120 passengers into an A321, voluntarily that is. The current system is thus absolutely unrealistic. It should be changed in a way that caps the quality rating for seating on short-haul flights, at least for coach. Business is a different matter. But I am referring to coach here and I do not think that the system is even half that bad for business.
Taken together the current system is exacerbating the biggest problem plaguing the game at the moment: Airlines blocking all the slots with small aircraft. If I only carry 110 passengers with an A321, I will surely use more than one. Hell, I might just go and lease a lot of CRJs or Embraers, all seated with the "top of the line" 45 seat arrangement and fly the same route six times. This in turn favors people doing so, because the booking system allocates passengers to each and every flight according to flight ranking. Operating two smaller planes is better than one bigger one - it should be reverse for most cases.
As for seats, I outright refuse to use "recliner short-haul" for coach on my A321 fleet, because only having a capacity of around 120 pax on such a machine is ridiculous. I will lower prices if I have to - hoping that the system at least offsets some of its shortcomings through the pricing mechanism - and my flight plan is good enough to make all my flights viable and profitable as they are, but I feel that airlinesim should make a denser seating (we are talking 150 passengers on an A321. More than spacious enough) not just viable, but the common standard.
What do others thing? I can not believe that nobody in a community of airline and airplane enthusiasts finds the idea of a 120 pax A321 cringe worthy.