How Airlines Assign Flight Numbers and Emirates Exaggerates Its Economy Class

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It’s interesting that despite the tons of information on premium class airline seats, there isn’t much comparative information on the web about economy class service. Bloggers don’t seem to fly coach a lot. 🙂

    Emirates economy class product seems to be well above average. As you’ve mentioned, Singapore’s product is also good (as I can personally attest to, but I haven’t flown their new product). But I believe JAL flies with the most economy legroom. Their Sky Wider product has 34″ pitch, and seems to get excellent reviews. I suspect the food is not as good as on Singapore or Emirates, though. I’m probably going to try it out soon, but here’s a recent review from the points guy about JAL economy.

  2. Question RE: flight numbers. If they are running out of 4 digit numbers, why not force/allow regional airlines to operate under their existing codes (instead of American AA5493, operate it as JI493)? Personally, I’d rather have more clarity of the operating carrier anyway (but, that may be the exact reason they don’t do it).

  3. Most carriers, including Emirates, wedge in 10-across seating in economy on the 777 which was designed for 9-across. This is miserable no matter what else they try to distract their passengers with on a long haul flight. I hear talk of some airlines considering adding a seat per row on the A380. Egad.

  4. @Rick — Having recently flown an AA 10-across 777, I would say that the configuration is worse, but only slightly more “miserable” than long-haul coach travel is in general. Most of the room seems to have come out of the aisles, which are now noticably narrow. But let’s do the math: compare AA’s product to JAL’s. In the same space, AA gets more than 50 extra seats into the cabin. Let’s say there are people like you and me who know JAL’s product is a bit better and, everything else equal, book away from AA. Do you think JAL can command enough of a premium — more than 25% — to make their more comfortable seating a good business decision? I’d be amazed if that’s true.

  5. How does this work when considering safety of passengers? 10 across means more people are crammed into the same space with narrower aisles and the same number of emergency exits? Where is the government oversight to suggest there could be a serious problem with the density?

  6. Get real, Sully. Even in the best of circumstances density is a nightmare.
    Sit in the back of a 737 and see how long it takes to deplane at the gate.

  7. @SullyofDoha — Evacuation safety is a interesting issue. Fortunately, it’s incredibly rare these days, so perhaps it’s not the most pressing concern in the world for travellers. But it is obviously a matter that “the experts” at the DOT should consider further. I would be hesitant to prejudge those findings. Remember all the concern about “economy class syndrome” with blood clots and such? That was eventually debunked. So I wouldn’t necessarily assume we’d like the scientific findings on this issue, either.

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