The Boeing Company in conjunction with United Airlines hired Downs & St. Germain Research to conduct preliminary research on a 20-year, hundreds of billion dollar decision: whether to

1) make new airplanes that will fly faster

2) make planes that will stay in the air longer, or

3) make planes that will hold more passengers.

We conducted focus groups in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago of flight attendants, first cabin passengers, and coach passengers who had recently flown 12-14 hour flights. We used projective techniques, mind mapping, and other qualitative tricks we have developed over the years to help respondents picture themselves at various points in a 20 to 22-hour flight.

The bottom line was that our research showed The Boeing Company that flights of up to 22 hours are feasible from passengers’ and flight attendants’ perspectives. Based on further quantitative research, The Boeing Company decided to place its bets on the 787 Dreamliner.