By Stanley Gewirtz
Page 12 – Book Reviews
It looks like a coffee table book; it could be; but it is much more. The author notes that “the aim of Jetliner Cabins is to survey just one small part of the vast legacy that we have inherited” from the Wright Brothers and “the development of the commercial-aircraft cabin environment from the late 1970s to the turn of the millennium.”
Jennifer Coutts Clay notes further that the main topics “include product branding, the passenger experience, cabin maintenance and the marketing challenge and include comments from more than forty international specialists” relevant to their areas of expertise.
General Architecture and Design (2003) described Jetliner Cabins as “a visual and fascinating book that focuses on the interior designs of aircraft cabins and how the many challenges faced in the layout of such a tight space can be met with flair and brilliance.” And “that successful designs are also integral to staying competitive.”
The past and future design of aircraft reminds of an inscribed message on the front of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC: “What is Past is Prologue!” Or, more colloquially translated by a DC cabbie: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
The book breaks down within its four defined areas: Product Branding in 1st Class Luxury, Business Class Comfort, Economy Class Value and Aero Identity. Then, passenger experience as it is provided by Sky Lights, Dining a la Jet Set, Real-Feel Customer Touchpoints and Special Needs and what constitutes required Cabin Maintenance. Finally, there is the Marketing Challenge inherent in all these categories.
Barnaby Conrad’s Pan Am, An Aviation Legend, explores Pan Am’s contributions to many of the specifics of each of Jetliner Cabins three sections defining how the then marketing challenges were met by Pan Am. Although, as Jennifer Clay points out, “The airlines now seek to differentiate themselves by addressing individual passenger comfort,” that comfort provided by Pan Am, as “the gregarious upstairs dining experience.” And, with that, “the old-style dining in the sky made famous by Pan Am (which) still lives on in the movies and in the hearts and minds of all premium-fare passengers.”
Pan Am was in the vanguard in the “irrevocable shift in the use of leather on board aircraft” introduced in “a dramatic navy blue leather-and-sheepskin seat-cover combination in the First Class cabin of its Boeing B747 fleet.” And, at the same time Pan Am relaunched its Clipper Class as an exclusive Business Class cabin. Originally utilized on international operations, it was introduced on Pan Am’s transcontinental route, when this was certificated. It is still recalled with fond memories by the legion of Pan Am customers.
In conclusion, questions are raised with the prospective introduction of the 555-seat Airbus A380 and the new challenges it will offer for an industry to remain competitive.
Jetliner Cabins is a treasure not only for its sheer beauty of design, its comprehensive superb photos and layout but also for an erudite text.
Editor’s Note: Ms Clay’s contributions to Pan Am livery and cabin design were nonpareil.
Grateful acknowledgement is given to the airlines and other organizations credited in this book for permission to use their photographs.
There are other images, also credited, that come from publicly available sources, for example, company sales brochures and websites. Pictures that are displayed
without photo credits come from the Collection of J. Clay Consulting.
Jennifer Coutts Clay has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.
First Edition in Hardback © 2003 Jennifer Coutts Clay. Second Edition in Paperback © 2006 Jennifer Coutts Clay. Third Edition in Digital Format © 2014 Jennifer Coutts Clay.