Star Alliance, the global network of airlines including United Airlines, Lufthansa, Thai, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, and many more announced an interesting seat trial yesterday. Basically, they are studying several economy seat styles in an attempt to gain bulk buying power that would allow individual Star carriers to purchase the seats at a discount, and perhaps allow other synergies. According to a spokesman, the goal:
Trials are currently being conducted in Germany and China, where at the latter, 200 of Air China’s most loyal frequent flyers are among the group of people testing the seats out. Each person spends 1.5 hours in a simulated cabin providing feedback on the “comfort, design and possible improvements” of three big seat manufacturers likely selected for the study, namely B/E Aerospace, Zodiac and Recaro.
It’s a unique concept and might make for a seamless experience globally for economy class travelers across multiple airlines. I could even envision such an endeavor being upgraded into the business and first class cabins, where seats are considerably more expensive on a per unit basis. Airlines here, though, probably want greater flexibility to differentiate their hard products even among alliance network members. No word on who else is conducting a hands-on study like Air China, but given they mentioned it’s in Germany, perhaps Lufthansa? Or perhaps at Star’s headquarters there at Frankfurt Airport? There’s a certain blogger (eh hem… you know who you are) that likely has first hand knowledge of this, but probably is barred from providing any details.