An insight from Avik Chopra, Professor of Economics at Harvard University
I worked at JetBlue Airways, and our legendary CEO, David Neeleman, always flew on our commercial scheduled flights. He usually sat on the last row, and helped clean the aircraft with the other passengers, who were encouraged to clean their own seat area, and then helped the crew after the flight landed and the passengers had disembarked.
He did this for a couple of reasons.
First, of course, because this is just the way he is. But it also gave him a unique insight on how to continuously improve the airline. He observed, for example, that with 162 seats in an Airbus 320, you needed 4 flight attendants, since, per regulations, 1 is required for every 50 or fewer seats in the U.S. However, the average load factor meant the last few seats were not usually occupied.
He made the brilliant decision to reduce the seats to exactly 150, providing the most legroom in Economy of any airline, at the same time reducing the flight attendants to 3, and increasing the average load factor to close to a 100%. An added benefit was reduced weight of the aircraft with 2 fewer rows of seats, which improved fuel economy.
That’s the kind of insight you can get by getting close to your customers and employees.