Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible idea?

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DarrenLockhart
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Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible idea?

#1 Post by DarrenLockhart » Sat Nov 14, 2015 2:53 pm

I’m not involved in the airline business in any way , but I had this idea for more efficient high-volume commercial airline travel. It was sparked by the new world record for passenger seating on a plane with the Emirates Airbus A380. I wondered if there was a way to get still more people on that plane, or if other smaller planes could be retrofitted to significantly increase the number of passengers on board.

The Idea
Decouple the passengers from their luggage. Send two aircraft to the destination. One with passengers, another with luggage. Both aircraft would be specifically designed for their task. The passenger aircraft would have very limited cargo space and seating would be maximized. The luggage would fly in a separate cargo aircraft.

This decoupled model might only work on very specific routes, or not at all. There may be a major show stopper that I am not aware of.

Potential Advantages

Safer
• Luggage is a source of explosions and fires. It represents a hazard to passenger flight. Remove the threat to the passengers by flying it separately.
• May eliminate the need to offload luggage from a passenger who misses their flight after checking their baggage.

Efficient
• If the cargo plane could reach the destination before the passenger plane and offload the luggage quickly, it would be very efficient transition for passengers at the destination airport. Their baggage could be waiting for them when they arrive. If this were the case it would disincentivize carry-on baggage – a pain in the butt for everyone. Maybe even eliminate carry-on all together including the overhead bins pushing seats higher into the aircraft allowing for more seats on a lower deck.
• Loading the aircraft with cargo takes time. Perhaps it would be more efficient if it was loaded into a cargo plane.
• Potentially less screening and security for the checked baggage since there are not hundreds of lives on the line, and a cargo plane is a less tempting target for terrorists.
• Mail and parcel delivery could share space on the cargo plane if there isn’t enough baggage to warrant a separate plane.

Issues to overcome

• It is critical that the cargo plane arrives earlier (or at least at the same time) as the passenger plane or it will cause delays for passengers.
• The passenger plane needs to be customized – I am not aware of a plane that has basically no cargo hold.
• Partnerships could to be arranged to ensure that the cargo plane is efficiently operated (ie mail and parcel delivery used to fill the plane). Alternatively, the optimal sized cargo plane would be used – perhaps quite a small plane comparatively.




What do you guys think?
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HiLo
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#2 Post by HiLo » Sat Nov 14, 2015 3:58 pm

The theory of bundling cargo and luggage seems reasonable, but the only drawback is that most air cargo (at least domestically) moves overnight. Also, freighters tend to be older aircraft (MD-11) that may need to make stops on some of the longer routes.
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ahramin
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#3 Post by ahramin » Sat Nov 14, 2015 4:01 pm

Efficiency wise it's a terrible idea. For the same number of passengers (same ticket sales), you now need 2 takeoff slots, 2 sets of pilots, 2 parking spots, etc etc for the 2 planes. In any case, it's not like the bags take up any room that would be used by anything else. It's all dead space anyway. It's not like you could get more passengers crammed into a high density 737 if you left the bags behind.

This idea would completely destroy the bottom line of any airline trying it.
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#4 Post by ahramin » Sat Nov 14, 2015 4:06 pm

Does remind me of this clip though:

http://youtu.be/7bdstJYUfMA
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#5 Post by digits_ » Sat Nov 14, 2015 4:17 pm

Airlines love carry on luggage. The more carry on (and thus less checked in luggage) the better. It saves labour costs as less bags == less luggage handlers.
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#6 Post by DSoup » Sun Nov 15, 2015 3:26 am

Extending this idea further how about if checked luggage was no longer guaranteed to arrive when you get there but within 24 hours...

That way freight could be optimized for efficiency.

You'd have to put 24 hours worth of stuff in your carry-on which shouldn't be an issue.

The main issue I'd see is how would people then get their luggage since most people don't want to return to the airport, so a delivery service (inefficient) or a central pickup location would need to be instituted. Again a logistic hassle...

I don't know the cost of these components though so i can't really compare them..
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#7 Post by Chris M » Sun Nov 15, 2015 7:51 am

The overall efficiency would be worse than the normal way of doing things. In theory you could turn any widebody into a double decker by installing some seats in the cargo bay, but in practice it wouldn't work so well. The bays don't have the headroom for most adults to stand upright (I don't know the exact dimensions per plane, but your typical container is only 160-ish cm tall). Subtract a bit more from that for overhead lights, speakers, and oxygen masks and you'd have 5 feet from floor to ceiling, at best.

What I'm getting at is that you won't gain any passenger space by not carrying baggage.
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#8 Post by rxl » Sun Nov 15, 2015 10:56 am

Congested hubs like LaGuardia, O'Hare etc. operate at near max capacity all the time. There is little room for more flights, particularly at peak times or if weather becomes an issue. What happens when the passenger flight arrives on time, but the baggage flight is ground stopped? This would mean extra cost to the airlines (not to mention the extra cost of operating the baggage aircraft) delivering plane loads of baggage to the customers' final destination. EVERY passenger becomes a potential PAWOB.
I agree with the above posts that eliminating the cargo holds on aircraft will not provide more room for passengers - there simply is not that much extra space on aircraft as currently designed.
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#9 Post by DarrenLockhart » Sun Nov 15, 2015 6:23 pm

Hey thanks for the replies. I guess I won't be an airline tycoon anytime soon.

Definitely the model falls apart quickly if you can't significantly increase the passenger capacity in the one plane.
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#10 Post by DarrenLockhart » Sun Nov 15, 2015 6:28 pm

DSoup wrote:Extending this idea further how about if checked luggage was no longer guaranteed to arrive when you get there but within 24 hours...

That way freight could be optimized for efficiency.

You'd have to put 24 hours worth of stuff in your carry-on which shouldn't be an issue.

The main issue I'd see is how would people then get their luggage since most people don't want to return to the airport, so a delivery service (inefficient) or a central pickup location would need to be instituted. Again a logistic hassle...

I don't know the cost of these components though so i can't really compare them..

I was thinking about this sort of idea as well. Maybe you could drop off your luggage a day or two before your flight - in major centers there could be a downtown drop off location for business travelers. Without all that luggage it may also allow people to take public transit to the airport instead of cabs or parking their vehicle at the airport.
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#11 Post by rxl » Sun Nov 15, 2015 6:29 pm

Interesting ideas.
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#12 Post by photofly » Sun Nov 15, 2015 6:56 pm

DarrenLockhart wrote:

I was thinking about this sort of idea as well. Maybe you could drop off your luggage a day or two before your flight - in major centers there could be a downtown drop off location for business travelers. Without all that luggage it may also allow people to take public transit to the airport instead of cabs or parking their vehicle at the airport.
My parents used to do that when we came back from our summer holidays, drop the luggage off at the airline terminal downtown. Frankly it was a PITA because you had to make two trips to airline premises instead of one.

Handling baggage is an expense airlines try to do without, or at least charge extra for, now. A more interesting business idea would be to get passengers out on the ramp slinging their own suitcases into the hold and sack the expensive baggage handlers.

I can imagine the guffaws around the boardroom table when the next bright young thing tells the airline executives that they need to lay on extra flights just for bags, as well as arrange a delivery service all over the country - instead of having passengers pick them up as they pass through the terminal.
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#13 Post by DSoup » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:55 am

My point was less about more flights - but the same amount of flights just different priority luggage. If you paid a premium your luggage would be guaranteed to arrive with you, otherwise you'd get it within 24 hours.
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#14 Post by Krimson » Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:11 am

2 planes making the trip is still 2 planes making the trip, whether 50/50 cargo/pax or not. If you split the luggage and had to have both aircraft arrive at the same time, you're just missing out of the opportunity of increasing frequency on that route, even if you were to stagger the flights by an hour, you could account for late pax, weather issues, maintenance, etc.
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#15 Post by AuxBatOn » Mon Nov 16, 2015 5:45 am

DSoup wrote:My point was less about more flights - but the same amount of flights just different priority luggage. If you paid a premium your luggage would be guaranteed to arrive with you, otherwise you'd get it within 24 hours.
What if your final destination is a 2 hour drive from the airport? Who brings it to you? What if the "baggage" plane has to divert? Now what? Divert both aircraft?

You will not even double the amount of PAX on an airplane by removing luggage, so it becomes more or less moot since the financial benefit is not there (double the cost but not the revenue).

I'd put it into the terrible idea category.
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#16 Post by Rockie » Mon Nov 16, 2015 8:19 am

AuxBatOn wrote:I'd put it into the terrible idea category.
Me too. Passengers have a real aversion to being separated from their luggage and you should see how some of them kick up a fuss watching their bag relocated from the front hold to the back. They think they'll never see it again.

Also it would only cost a lot more money, more actual airplanes in the air overstressing an already overcapacity airspace system, and a bucket full of additional logistical problems reuniting bags with passengers. Plus there is absolutely no need to do it given both bags and people already fit on the same airplane.

I only say this because you asked and I don't ever want to discourage ideas, but it's a terrible solution to a problem that doesn't even exist.
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#17 Post by cdnpilot77 » Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:44 am

I wouldn't put it past Ryanair or Lion Air to try to figure some way to offer a "commuter class" 737 for short haul flights where anything larger than a computer bag simply isn't allowed and maybe institute a horrible configuration as suggested. Where it all falls apart however, is evacuation times and all that silly safety stuff that seems to always get in the way of their grand schemes.
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Re: Decoupled Commercial Flight Model - Is this a terrible i

#18 Post by trey kule » Wed Nov 18, 2015 4:53 pm

I believe WJ put about $25. Million on their bottom line from fees and flogging cookies.
Other airlines pretty much the same.

Luggage has become a very lucrative revenue source for the airlines. It took some time for them to convince the sheep that you should not need to take any luggage for a two week vacation, but once they did that, then another fee was born. Recall, that in the past, this "fee" was included in the ticket price, and people actually thought it was no unreasonable to take luggage. Excess luggage had a different meaning.

Good to think outside the box, but I dont think this is a great idea.
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