My 6 Ways On How To Fix Air Travel (And Eliminate Its Suck Factor)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It seems as though the brilliant minds that came up with the nearly pointless pre-flight safety speech have continued to devolve into the realm of customer non-service since I last boarded a plane. On my recent flying escapade around the U.S. to visit family, I couldn’t help but be constantly reminded of this.

As a result of another round of lackluster air travel paired with a predisposition to imagining myself ruling the world, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions that would immediately gather worldwide support and likely pull the entire industry out of bankruptcy.

1) Bring Back the Cool

Would it kill you to pump some Eye of the Tiger or the theme to Rocky as people got off the plane? How about the dude who screams goooooaaaaalllll for the Spanish soccer broadcasts doing the boarding calls? And the gangway: it sucks. People look like their marching to known death through a sterile metal vaginal canal.

Honestly, no one wants to feel like that. How about some color on the walls or maybe sprinkle in a some live music? Coolness doesn’t even need to serve a purpose; it just needs to be cool — full-body costume requirements, glow sticks and in-flight photos available for purchase at the wet bar. Oh, and the introduction of the flight staff would now be modeled after the Chicago Bulls pre-game routine.

2) Eliminate the Middle Seat

There’s just no good reason this seat should exist, nor is there anyone that prefers this seat. It ruins the experience for the entire row. Read this Forbes article discussing the profile of a middle-seat preferer, and you’ll see that the only logical answer is to do away with the seat completely.

The new arrangement doesn’t even matter, as long as you only have to deal with one person spilling into your seat and taking over your armrest, figuring out how to take over the armrest yourself, and avoiding the annoying game of “my knee goes here.”

3) Total Transparency

Airlines need to figure out a way to create a handout for every passenger with everyone’s name, picture, occupation (the zodiac sign of that attractive flight attendant — male and female) and any other interesting facts that might warrant a conversation. If professional baseball teams can do this for every game of their ridiculously long season, one would think airlines could follow suit.

How many times have you been stuck in a conversation you wish never happened? Small talk sucks, and if you’re planning on being the loud talker on the night flight, you get relegated to the soundproof booth, next to the now oversized lavatories in the rear of the craft.

4) Reclining Your Seat Is Now Totally Forbidden

Everyone has been the recipient of a jarring recline, throwing your laptop, book, knees or coffee into your chest — usually a combination of all four. By the time you figure out how to type — for example, this post with your head tilted 45 degrees to the left and in a T-Rex-like arm position — it is time to stow all electrical devices for your approach into Cedar Rapids.

Imprisonment and a $569 fine is not too harsh. If you disagree, I propose this: If you choose to recline, you are accepting the full cost of the ticket paid by the person sitting directly behind you (plus the $5 for a coffee at the gate just for your troubles).

5) Quit Dealing With Idiots

Reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, at anytime — and actually do it. How many times have you been in line behind someone barking orders at the ticketing counter employee about a flight delay while everyone else within earshot fights the gathering urge to punch the person? Yes, if you act dumb, and make flying dumber for everyone around you, you will not be allowed to fly. Period. Go home, get a long pointy hat, and sit in a corner for 10 minutes.

I’m not giving flight attendants an excuse, they are way too cranky and rude, but if you take a look at the degree of doucshbaggery they are forced to deal with on an hourly basis, I’m surprised that anyone wants to be a flight attendant anymore. The entire flying atmosphere would improve if we started hearing, “Sir, I’ve tried to tolerate your idiocy, but I cannot do so any longer. You are no longer allowed on this flight. Please head over to the United counter to reserve a flight with an airline appropriate to your behavior, like Delta.” (Just kidding Delta, lots of love to you.)

5) Pilot High-Fives

No longer are we lowly passengers accepting the gaping rift that exists between us and the pilots. I understand that you need to fly the frickin’ plane and all, but we would feel a little better about things if we saw an actual human being in the cockpit rather than some incomprehensible voice when we get to cruising altitude. You are now required to welcome all passengers with a high-five as they board and are required to attempt two jokes while in flight. 

6) Stop Using the Word “Pre-Board”

It is stupid.

[Photo of Lena by Yooperann/Flickr]

By Jon Wick


About the Author

Jon lives in Butte, Montana, spending most of his time on skis or bikes; sometimes both. He began travel writing while teaching in Korea and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Technical Communication at Montana Tech. Jon has begun writing his first book, The Story of Will, whose movie rights are still (very) available. Catch more of Jon at (@ExpedJon)

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