Would you fly slower if you could?

Old Jun 1, 12, 2:35 am
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Would you fly slower if you could?

So, in my occasional nocturnal musings on innovation in civil aviation, I was wondering about this concept....

As a rule, I much prefer daylight flights, but if there's no choice then my ideal overnight (in whatever class of travel) would involve a not-too-late departure, and enough time to either have a decent sleep or to be able to combine a meal/film with a shorter sleep/catnap. Anything with a block time of under 7 hours seems a bit too short.

So I was wondering about the feasibility of flying slower on flights from the East Coast US (WAS, PHL, NYC, BOS) and northern and central Africa. Flying at MRC (the most fuel efficient speed) adds time and saves a bit of fuel (depending on aircraft type), but often isn't done for operational utilisation reasons. I'm assuming though that for short longhaul flights it might be possible to add a bit more time without starting to incur additional payments to crew. Clearly there's knock-on to total monthly hours etc, but they might be offset by the fuel savings.

But the real question is whether you all as passengers would prefer to take a flight from Accra or Nairobi that left an hour or two earlier in the evening but got into London at the same time, or would choose a flight from JFK or Boston that took an hour or two longer but still got into London early enough to do whatever you needed to do - ie a real Sleeper service. Or do people generally just want the fastest possible option. I know I'd prefer a slightly longer flight if an airline felt it could operate it economically.

I guess the follow up question is whether, where there's a choice of flights on the same carrier (ie East Coast) whether you'd be prepared to pay a small premium for the service that gave you the longest sleep...
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Old Jun 1, 12, 2:47 am
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Would you fly slower if you could?

Yes! I'd much rather fly CW or F for 8 hours than 5 overnight. Not so keen if Y!
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Old Jun 1, 12, 2:57 am
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You already can choose a slower plane - slightly - it's called the A318 from JFK to LCY. Its 7.10pm redeye departure has a 20 minute longer flight time than the 747 to LHR which departs at the same time. Likewise, any 767 flight will also be a tad longer than a 747 flight, again due to lower cruise speed.
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Old Jun 1, 12, 3:09 am
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I would choose a slower flight - by the time you take off and then get woken up for breakfast (whether you want it or not) there isn't quite enough time to get a full sleep.
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Old Jun 1, 12, 3:09 am
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.....

Last edited by angatol; Feb 28, 15 at 5:14 pm
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Old Jun 1, 12, 3:23 am
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And I guess if you add 20-30% onto a flight time that means the plane can't be flying off someplace else, so the asset isn't working as hard.
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Old Jun 1, 12, 3:25 am
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I've also had this thought before.
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Old Jun 1, 12, 3:35 am
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Yes I would prefer a slower flight on those TATL routes for the reasons others have said. Those following winds are a blasted nuisance! But I suppose it would use up more fuel? - not good.
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Old Jun 1, 12, 3:51 am
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Originally Posted by angatol View Post
Yes, that is a bit of a problem with this idea. All of the plane has to arrive at the same time unfortunately and those in Y who can't sleep sat up (such as me), as well as the crew I'd guess, probably wouldn't want the extra 2 or 3 hours.
I tend to do all my flying in Y these days , but thankfully am finding it rather easier to sleep than I did 10 years ago.

But in part that's what the extra time argument is about. One of the reasons I find it difficult to get to sleep in Y is the 2 or 3 hours of clanking around with the lights on that is typical at the start of the flight - a slightly longer flight would give the opportunity to get some snoozing done.

The points made about aircraft utilisation are valid ones though - I'm assuming that the main adjustment of timings would be to the departure rather than arrival, which would "just" (yes, I know there's more to it than meets the eye) involve shrinking/juggling the turnaround time a but. Not saying it would necessarily always be possible, but it would be in some cases.

I'd be interested to hear though from anyone that knows what they're talking about what the operational considerations would be - ie could crew do a 7 hour flight instead of a 5 or 6 hour one without needing additional payments, and how long realistically could East Coast or African flights be stretched in terms of flight speed and fuel efficiency?
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Old Jun 1, 12, 3:51 am
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It's for this reason that I prefer the BA2/4 over the Heathrow services. The other huge benefit is that you can sleep right up until 40 minutes (sometimes 20 minutes) to landing, and then there's usually very little holding. I hate coming into Heathrow only to be hanging around holding, half asleep for an hour when you just want to get off the plane and go home and you can't recline as its cabin secure.
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Old Jun 1, 12, 4:07 am
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More than once I have flown to a further origin (i.e. ATL instead of IAD) at considerable extra expense just to board a longer TATL flight. I know it seems crazy but it makes all the difference when I arrive at LHR if I have had 6-7 hrs sleep. On the IAD-LHR flights it's difficult to get more than 5 what with CC commotion especially during the first and last 90 minutes. I have considered flying to DFW to start my trips too.... might do that one day.

It's the one great thing about living in the midwest of the USA (which I don't)...both coasts are a short flight away and Europe is a good long night's sleep away. But yeah, as far as flying slower goes, I'd love it but most of the people in Y won't like it one bit.
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Old Jun 1, 12, 4:53 am
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Originally Posted by dubbin View Post
Yes! I'd much rather fly CW or F for 8 hours than 5 overnight. Not so keen if Y!
That sounds about how I feel about it. 5 hours is not quite sufficient for sleep opportunities, whereas 8 is just right. However in Y or Y+, the shorter the better.
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Old Jun 1, 12, 4:57 am
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On an East Coast sector, flying at the most fuel efficient speed, would only add maybe 10 mins at most to the flight time.
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Old Jun 1, 12, 5:17 am
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Originally Posted by BApilotinsider View Post
On an East Coast sector, flying at the most fuel efficient speed, would only add maybe 10 mins at most to the flight time.
Well, I don't think 10 minutes would do it. I guess we'd be looking at paying a fuel-surcharge-surcharge then, to have you fly the scenic route!

So the option of "are you prepared to pay an extra 50 - 100 for an extra two hours on board" comes into play...
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Old Jun 1, 12, 5:22 am
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The overnight LHR-DXB is a flight that would benefit from an extra 2-3 hours too.

The ideal for me is a HKG-LHR sector. Late evening departure after dinner in town, a glass of wine with a book on board then 10 hours sleep before stepping into the arrivals lounge and getting on with the day. ^
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