Most business people view flights with mixed feelings. For some is it a chance to relax between business meetings in a relatively relaxed atmosphere, with in-flight entertainment, seats that can collapse into beds, hot drinks, cold drinks and even stiff drinks served throughout the journey and some high level gourmet meals to take the edge of the flier’s appetite till they arrive at their next destination.
There are other business travellers who regard their time in the air as wasted, simply because their hands are tied as far as work is concerned. Although, under normal circumstances, they can make cell phone calls, surf the web on the laptop and even write and receive e-mails, the truth is that airplanes, and even the roomiest, were never designed to become mini-offices. At least until now.
The news that one of the World’s leading airlines, Korean Air are to allocate the entire top floor of some of their new wide body double decker A380 into business class. The new business class section will provide specially designed mini office seats for the business traveler who wants to make maximum use of their time in the air. The second floor business class sector will have just 94 places for travellers on long haul flights, when the first Korean airbus goes into service in the summer of 2011, and hope to have a further nine air line online business sections operating by the end of 2014.
Korean’s decision to allocate space and advanced facilities for the business traveler is both a brave and forward thinking one, as the seating capacity for the A380′s will be a maximum of 407, while the average seating capacity for the new European designed and produced Airbus is expected to be around 500.
It is not by chance that Korean air have decided to situate their business class section on the top floor of this massive aircraft. New developments in airline WiFi communications have paved the way for considerably improved and powerful reception without the risk of infringing on the aircraft’s vitally important online communication systems. While it is possible to operate a mobile phone or even a lap top on the ground floor of the aircraft, in Korea’s business sector, passengers will have direct access to a more powerful WiFi network, which can be either data network driven, either through a satellite or a ground based cellular network.
So what will this new business class mean for the long range traveler? It really will mean the best of both worlds. The ability to relax in very comfortable and roomy surroundings while making up any backlog on paperwork if need be. On flights lasting twelve or more hours the ability to be in contact with colleagues and customers can be a real godsend, as well as allowing the possibility to prepare for the next stage of the journey before the wheels of the Airbus touch the tarmac of the next destination. From the simple steps of arranging, confirming or changing hotel accommodation details, car hire, booking a favourite restaurant, arranging, delaying or even cancelling meetings, the permutations are endless. And the modern traveler can go about their business, knowing that they are not bothering anyone and their conversations and communications can be handled in complete confidentiality.
One of the advantages of online business communications is that the 21st century business traveler has access to localized information while they are still approaching their destination. Thanks to Google Maps, for example, they can check out local weather conditions to decide what to wear on arrival, book a taxi, rent a car with or without driver and guide.
While Korea Air looks like being the undoubted trail blazers with their in-flight business section concept, it can only be a matter of time before many more of the World’s leading airlines begin to follow suit.
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