By Dicie Okaya
The first commercial aircraft with a paying passenger was January 1, 1914. During the 1930s, armies used aircraft during wars and this was the flying that mostly happened. But this is not to say that civilians did not fly. Those who could afford it, flew. Some of the long distances, for example between London and Sydney cost USD 20, 000.00. This was a luxury for the rich. It was a very expensive affair but the fastest way to get to different regions. The commercial aircraft then used to have a capacity of 32 passengers.
Imperial Airways was the first airline to be started by the British Government. They merged all the struggling small airlines in Britain at the time and formed one airline. This was mostly for establishing power across the globe by giving the people ability and access to different regions. Of course, there were a lot of drawbacks with aircraft of the past. It was very discomforting not to mention tiresome to fly. For one to book a flight, they had to visit the airline offices where everything was done manually from filing of flight details to recording such. A typical London-Sydney route which was a regular route with Imperial Airways would take 22 days with over 24 stops. This was for fueling and servicing of the aircraft.
The aircraft were made of wood and fabric but had to be changed to metal due to their inability to withstand tropical climates. This change made the aircraft more streamlined but very uncomfortable. The temperature was unbearable as it was not regulated meaning during cold days, people were really cold. The cabins were also not pressurized and altitude sickness was experienced a lot. This generally meant that people needed oxygen. Noise and Security were also other factors that made flights very uncomfortable.
The Present…. How has technology helped?
Airlines used to be controlled by the government and prices were not excluded. When airlines were able to control themselves, changes occurred. This began with the reservation system. The manual booking did not cut it and Sabre, a Global Distribution System (GDS) provider invented a system that had computerized software in America to assist with reservation. This fastened the reservations and the airline could easily spot their flight program. In our present day, technology has enhanced the booking experience making people book their own tickets online with no expected human interaction. Since then, there have been several GDS companies.
Flights in the past would take up to 22 days from one location to another but nowadays, the longest an airline can take, for example, between Sydney and London is 22 hours. Duration of flights has been shortened drastically and this could be attributed to the modifications made in engineering of aircraft and use of modern technology. The aircraft have been modified to a point where less fuel and maintenance is needed in a trip making the passengers spend less time in air.
Passengers can also check in online and all they have to do is check in their luggage at the airport. Some airlines have even gone ahead to implement a system where boarding passes could be printed before heading to the airport. If unable to check-in and print boarding pass online, this can be done at the airport where some have made provisions for kiosks. Kiosks are check in counters that passengers do self-check in and printing of boarding passes. This eases on the cues that were experienced in the past. The security checks are also more effective and efficient due to introduction of a variety of security measures and equipment at the airports. Part of the security measures is tracking of aircraft which is done by use of various frequencies to ensure they are on course with no challenges. Scanners at different airports such as Amsterdam can scan one and the body seen without clothes being removed.
The aircraft have also come a long way. They can carry up to over 800 passengers in an aircraft. The cabins have been digitally enhanced to maintain room temperatures and pressurized cabins for the comfort of the passengers.