I was watching my budgies the other day, and had a thought which led to a brief online investigation, followed by the following back-of-envelope calculation: According to a Boeing presentation on airline fuel efficiency that I found on the Internet, a 1% reduction in landing weight gives about a 1% reduction in trip fuel. A Boeing 747’s operational empty weight (with equipment, flight crew etc) is 390,700lbs. Subtracting that from its Maximum Zero Fuel Weight (max weight allowed before fuel is loaded) gives a maximum value for passengers and cargo of 144,300lbs.
I am cheap. I don’t think I go quite as far as being a tightwad, but I’m frugal. I buy generics at the supermarket and drugstore, and when I order from Amazon, I always choose the free shipping option, even though it sometimes drives me crazy waiting for the item to arrive. I don’t mind spending money on functionality, but I find it tough to spend extra for luxury. Today, however, I did something I found difficult: I paid the extra money for seat upgrades for our trip to the UK later this year.
I’ve written quite a few times about horrible airline experiences, primarily at the hands of American Airlines. Well, there’s one airline I’ve never had a bad experience with, and that’s Virgin Atlantic. Which is probably why the US government doesn’t want to allow Virgin to start operating in the US. Lip service to the free market is all very well, but if a foreign airline is allowed to show US passengers that flying doesn’t have to be a miserable experience, where will it all end?
A $15 billion bailout for the airlines to save them from their own incompetence, yet we can’t even find $1.5 billion to save Amtrak.