3 Links I Love: The Tale of the Mighty Seat Belt, Norwegian Hunts for Business Travelers, Lufthansa’s Two-Color Confusion

Links I Love, Safety/Security

Decoding the Design of In-Flight Seat BeltsAtlas Obscura
It takes skill to make an airplane seat belt into an interesting story, but Atlas Obscura did a great job of doing just that. Try to ignore Amy Fraher’s conspiracy-theory quotes and and just focus on what matters. An airplane seat belt does it job well precisely because it doesn’t have the same function as a car seat belt. Sure, there could be “safer” versions of belts that could be used, but they would be less comfortable, more expensive, and heavier. Is that a worthwhile trade-off when the potential benefit is so incredibly tiny? Regardless of how you’ll feel about that, you should enjoy the read.

Norwegian CEO: “The UK will be at the heart of our continued global expansion”Norwegian Press Release
It was a terrible 2017 for Norwegian, so how is the airline going to right itself? Well, the UK apparently is a big part of the plan. Notice that the airline is now talking about chasing business travelers. It needs more revenue, so it’s looking to people who will pay more. Good luck.

Why Lufthansa Decided to Give Its Planes a New Paint JobAdWeek
Here’s another piece on the new Lufthansa branding effort. I do believe that a makeover that makes it easier in the digital world is smart, but they could have modified the crane without changing the paint job and still had the same result. Still, it’s not a big deal since things are so similar that there’s no hurry to repaint the fleet quickly. They can just wait until aircraft are scheduled for new paint. All that being said, this quote is just silly. “As Schlaubitz explained that Lufthansa had ‘two colors that [were] equally weighted: blue and yellow.’ The competing colors made it ‘very difficult for customers to actually understand what Lufthansa stands for. We decided that we needed to take a hard look at that.'” Yes, with two colors, nobody could figure out what Lufthansa stood for. Give me a break.

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19 comments on “3 Links I Love: The Tale of the Mighty Seat Belt, Norwegian Hunts for Business Travelers, Lufthansa’s Two-Color Confusion

  1. Thanks for the warning to ignore Amy Fraher’s conspiracy theory. “Nobody wants the public to know the truth!” What truth is that? That an airplane seatbelt is simple to operate, costs very little to install, requires very little maintenance, and effectively saves lives?
    I would offer the following:
    *Operators and manufacturers install equipment on aircraft that meets current certification and operational requirements.
    *Current seat belt designs used on commercial aircraft meet parts 25 and 121 requirements.
    *Parts 25 and 121 are performance-based regulations; they tell the manufacturer and operator how the seat belt is supposed to operate (protect users from injury in decelerations/crashes), and manufacturers developed seat belts based on successful testing.

  2. Who knew seat belts had such a history? While I appreciate theories that three point seat belts might be a safer airplane option, I can anticipate one problem: passengers will not want to keep them on for an entire flight. In a car, most rides are short, so the conning belt is tolerable. Even a long road trip has periodic opportunities to get out of the belt (gas stops, meal breaks, etc.). But a cross country flight in an already not-so comfy seat is another story. As a passenger, keeping the lap belt on from departure to arrival is no problem. I have no need to remove it and rarely do. But I doubt I could handle a three point belt for five or six hours. The simple lap belt might not be a perfect solution, but before the industry decides to re-belt itself, I think someone needs to figure out what happens when passengers decide to take off a “better” belt as soon as the plane is in the air, versus the passive keep-it-on choice many people make now.

    1. I would bet that you and I are in the minority when we admit to wearing our seatbelts from cabin door closure to door opening. It’s always surprising to me how many passengers unfasten their seatbelts as soon as possible (even when the FSB sign is still illuminated), as if it is strangling them or causing some sort of discomfort. I can’t even imagine the challenges flight attendants will experience on a commercial aircraft that has lap/shoulder harness restraints! A plane might never takeoff!

    2. I haven’t read the article yet (todo list item), but that won’t stop me from throwing in a comment here :)

      Some airline seats apparently require 3-point seat belts during take-off and landing phases. The UA Global First seat is an example. I always wondered what is so different about the seat or the seating position that this was a requirement.

      1. As mentioned in the article, the distance between you and the nearest thing your head could hit is a big factor. In an economy seat, you don’t have far to go so you won’t be moving too quick if you hit the seat in front of you. In first, on the other hand…

    3. I’m not sure the three-point belt would be safer at all. It may be safer in the event of a survivable jolt to the aircraft while taxiing or in the air, but when one looks at the history of aircraft accidents of all kinds, I would think there is far greater risk of injury or death from not being able to quickly evacuate an aircraft amid smoke and fire. I find it a lot easier to quickly get out of a lap belt than the kind we have in our cars that go over a shoulder. Flight crews may have that type of belt, but they’re also trained. I was surprised to see in the article that nobody raised the ability to quickly evacuate an aircraft as a factor in seatbelt design.

  3. “he competing colors made it ‘very difficult for customers to actually understand what Lufthansa stands for. We decided that we needed to take a hard look at that.’” Yes, with two colors, nobody could figure out what Lufthansa stood for.”

    Sounds like someone needs to make better use of the Corporate B.S. Generator:

  4. What I found very interesting about the seat belt article was the point about how tight seat pitches reduce the potential for impact injuries. Many pax (and I include myself in this) really are wedged into the seats pretty tightly, between leg/knee room, hip room, and the seat belts, and that definitely helps to reduce involuntary passenger movement during sudden bumps.

    Also, I always thought that one of the benefits of the classic airline seat belt design was the universality and intuitiveness of it. Not only do almost all planes have the same seat belt design, but it’s also easy for those who have never used it before to figure out.

  5. I for one like thoughtful and reasonably frequent updates to airline brands and liveries. (Every 3-7 years for tweaks to the brand, and every 20-30 years for the livery.)

    If its done well its pretty subtle and most people don’t notice. Think of Alaska’s cleaning up their wordmark, and saving the last lowercase a from continual pain. Alaska’s changes were small and if you didn’t stop to look you probably didn’t notice them, but they helped make the brand look more modern. If done well the old and new liveries co-exist for quite some time without a problem. (The other extreme changing your livery frequently is the Delta-flot era, where Delta might’ve introduced a new livery twice a year or so, I’ve blocked out how many they went through, so I don’t know.)

    The danger of not updating your livery every so often is American, which is still flying a 1960’s era livery on some of their planes. When they changed to the new wonderful ugly flag colors it was such a shock because while the brand had made some updates into the 2000s, the planes were still nicely back in the 60s.

    This is all a way of saying, that Lufthansa’s brand and livery update is a nice evolution that is part of keeping the brand fresh and vibrant, instead of stuck back in the 80s.

    1. I’m not so sure “tweaks” and such are actually necessary. American’s is a good example, as they went from a clean, iconic design to one that’s part so generic that the trademark application was rejected (the eagle-thing) and part hideous (the gawdawful tail.)

      In Lufthansa’s case, the major problem is the loss of the goldish-yellow (or yellow-ish gold), as that’s the part of the livery that ties the identity to the German flag. I would think that after BA’s “World Tails” fiasco, airlines with strong national identities would have learned weakening that is a mistake. The minor crane redesign and the font change are fine, although the way they prattled on and on about the font made you think that looking at it cures cancer or something. It’s just a font.

        1. Andy – No, anyone who says different is someone with a different opinion.
          There is no single correct answer when it comes to style and design.

      1. The Trademark application was approved, the copyright application was denied.
        From: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/todayinthesky/2018/01/30/copyright-board-rejects-american-airlines-logo-copyright-again/1077964001/

        “The airline already has the image trademarked, to prevent another U.S. carrier or tourism entity from using the image in its marketing. But a copyright would have offered longer and broader protection internationally, if it were approved.”

        And I’m sure American has already copyrighted the livery as a whole.

        As for Adweek prattling on? That is what happens in a trade publication, people discuss the details of their industry and design choices, you know like avgeeks commenting about airline minutia on Crankyflier.com

  6. ‘” Yes, with two colors, nobody could figure out what Lufthansa stood for. Give me a break.“

    Another reason why I’m a Cranky Flyer fan. Brett- you make me laugh!

  7. Wait a minute. Isn’t the entire premise of carriers like NX, NK, F9 et al, to enter a market where people who don’t normally fly, can afford to fly? Why would you go after frequent business travelers who want amenities and status, neither of which they offer?? I just…I don’t….ugh.

  8. … I am more concerned that EVA Air will land on me or that Asiana will hit the sea wall coming in than in the minutiae of flimsy seat belts or Lufthansa’s loss of its yellow identifier …

  9. Re seat belts: Several years ago, while on a CRJ100 DAB-CVG, an obese gentleman squeezed into the window seat beside me. He clearly couldn’t secure his seat belt, and apparently was too embarrassed to ask the flight attendant for an extension (if he even knew such existed). He was clever enough to pull both parts over his lap and set a book over the open space when the flight attendant made her walk through before take-off.
    As more “persons of size” are boarding planes, during an online booking procedure, it may be helpful for the airlines to mention seat belt extensions, along with other requests such as special meals, wheelchairs, etc.

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