6 Things to Vastly Improve Air Travel

I consider myself a pro traveler.  While I’m not “executive platinum” I’ve flown enough times such that I can pretty much quote the safety message across 3 different airlines (Virgin America, Delta, and American, to be exact).

FWIW, my favorite airline is Virgin America.  And I could write pages about how great the whole VA experience is.

But I’m motivated today to write about another airline. One that is trying to re-invent itself, but still shows signs of old outdated policies and traditions.

No, I’m not going to name it, because I want them to improve and become the best airline in the world.  But for now, a few of the things they do bother the heck out of me.

And yes, most airlines you can think of suffer from the same issues.  So this is an open letter to all airlines, except Virgin America.

1)   Give us the whole can.

You’re not saving any money by giving us ½ of a can of soda.  At least offer the entire can and let us say no if we don’t want it.

VA let’s you order any drink at any time via their in-seat ordering system.  Brilliant.

2)   Relax carry on bag restrictions.

I use the same bags on all flights. They always fit in the overhead bins, and I know how to pack them accordingly.

But the gate agents on many airlines are “soup natzis” when it comes to checking bags at the gate, especially if it doesn’t fit into their little size checker.

Problems with that:

A)   The size checker represents the smallest overhead bin of their fleet so that they don’t have to make multiple size checkers.  That means my bag must be small enough to fit on a DC-10 or Canada Air Regional Jet.   Lame.

B)   It’s frustrating as all hell to have to check a bag at the gate.  Besides the fact that you look silly in front of the whole line of people waiting to get on, but you then have to permit your possessions to be thrown around by people who don’t care about them.  I pack my carry-on with things I didn’t want to check – expensive computer shit and breakables.

C)   Finally, while it’s easy for the airline to check bags at the gate, it’s a huge waste of time for the flyer to have to wait in baggage claim after a flight.  Especially for business travelers, the extra 10-15 min can mean missing an important meeting.

Solutions

A)   Let your bag be registered / approved to fit on certain airlines.  If it carries the tag, it flies.  No stupid size checker.

B)   Let biz travelers who over x-miles bypass the size checker.  Nobody wants to slow down the loading of the plane, business travelers the least.  So they’re not going to try and take a 50lb bag and stuff it in.

C)   Be flexible. Yes, sometimes a carryon is packed a little too much.  It will still fit, 99% of the time.  Try not to just make a hard-fast rule at the gate. It’s not helping anyone, and it just causes customer dissatisfaction.

3)   WI-FI on every flight, period.

This is a no brainer.   But if you want to be really cool, offer free wi-fi for some or all flights.

 4)   Don’t nickel and dime us.

25 for a seat upgrade.  2.00 for headphones. 25.00 to check a bag.   Does it really cost 25.00 to carry an average bag under the plane?  No way.

Don’t get me wrong – don’t loose money by giving away too many free-bees.  But just weigh the bag and figure out how much fuel it will really cost you!

Seat upgrades, if they’re truly upgrades in space, are a fine premium to offer. But I get the feeling that airlines keep those seats open to the last second and then release them as normal seats if nobody buys them.

This is horrible. It’s like paying good money for a seat, but not being able to select your seat until x-minutes before the flight leaves when they realize nobody is paying for the expensive seats.  I don’t have a solution for this other than to request that you play fair: let people pick their seat ALWAYS when they spend 1k for a flight for 2 people.

And yes, Virgin America has figured this one out too.

 5)   Charge different amounts for isle, middle, and window seats.

All middle seats suck.  Charge less for them.

6)   Change the vocabulary to keep it fresh and interesting.

I’m so sick of hearing that my “Seat Back” is not in the “upright” position.  It’s laughable.  Just talk like a human and we’ll respond more humanly.

This is another one VA got right – their safety video is actually entertaining, even after the 50th time.

 

Air travel doesn’t have to suck. Follow these steps and it won’t suck nearly as much.

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