Friday, July 4, 2014

Airlines would like you to pee before getting on the plane

All of this got us wondering: Just how much fuel could an airline save by shaving excess weight from a flight? We decided to use an aircraft performance model developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to find out. ...

It costs Southwest about $1.2 million per year in added fuel when every passenger carries a cellphone, with larger costs of $7 million if every passenger brings a tablet computer, and $21.6 million if everyone totes a laptop. Using Southwest’s network as a proxy for similar-sized airlines carrying embedded in-flight entertainment systems, we found that fuel costs to carry these systems are approximately $39.7 million per year. When compared with installing embedded systems in the seats, simply handing everyone an iPad when they stepped onboard could save about $32.7 million per year in fuel costs. ...

If airlines were extremely aggressive about weight savings, they could provide incentives for passengers to go to the restroom before getting on a flight; doing so could save Southwest about $2.1 million per year. Less aggressive ways to save on fluid weight can come in the form of $2.4 million per year in savings by ditching the small water bottles provided to passengers during a flight. Budget airlines, like Spirit, have realized this expenditure and now only provide water for a fee.
--Luke Jensen and Brian Yutko, FiveThirtyEight, on small savings adding up. HT: Marginal Revolution