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written by: Karl Wilder

 

Airlines have had a rough year and I feel for them (those who did not get billions from the government) but maybe it is time to Reinvent the model a bit to make things more comfortable for the passenger.

1. Crossed Seat Belts. They say it makes the plane look neater but they never think of it from our point of view. I am not big, and there is no space for me to get into my seat. If stuck in the middle or the window I have to walk sideways to get into the space, struggle to get my bag under the seat and then sit down on a crossed seatbelt. I pull the sides out from under my tush and finally get settled. Come on airlines. It would be just as neat to put the two halves facing forward so there is room to sit, and then belt.

2. Food. Most airlines still serve food on International flights and the choices typically are a gummy, mushy, overcooked pasta or a dry tasteless chicken breast in a vile sauce. Keep in mind that the food has to be reheated and THINK for a moment about what it will taste like afterwards. Try a chicken thigh, it can hold up to reheating more easily and if you must foist a cheap pasta upon us go for one that is traditionally al forno like a lasagne. I would love a good salad and a baguette (not one preserved in plastic). There is nothing wrong with cold food.

And while we are at it we need to discuss the diabetes breakfast. Last time I flew American I got sugared yogurt, some sugared pastry, and no fruit or anything resembling healthy food, not even the cold unripe banana they used to offer. You need to keep your customers alive, and this means not giving them diabetes.

I worked as a chef for more than twenty years. I will volunteer to help you improve and not charge you one dime. Think about it, no cost and better passenger experience. A win, win.

3. Preservatives. Get them out of your food. I recently had on British Airways a fairly tasty pizza pie sort of thing and then looked on the label. A horrifying list of non food ingredients. Tell those who make food for you to take the crap out, we do not need garbage in our bodies. Think of it this way, the longer we live the more we will travel. Health means a future revenue stream.

4. Charge for Carry on bags, not checked. Most businesses charge for that which makes life most convenient, oh but not the airlines. They charge you to wait in long understaffed lines, give up your bags, then stand around for another 30 minutes on the other end hoping your plane gets unloaded at some point.

What kind of business model is this?

This is why boarding takes a LONG time and everyone is fighting for space. Switch it, you won’t lose a dime, boarding will be quicker, and you will have more on time flights.

5. Care for larger passengers. This has been an ongoing discussion for years. Supposedly they have to buy two seats, but it never happens, and when they are wedged into a middle seat everyone is uncomfortable. They are human beings and need to be treated as such. Assuming they cannot afford first class could you not designate a row or two to wider humans, yes you can charge more, but be reasonable and respectful about it.

6. Allow sick passengers to change flights at no fee. During this past year you have allowed free changes, keep it up. With viruses traveling faster than the speed of light a legitimately sick passenger should be allowed to change a flight for free to prevent the spread of disease. You can require a doctor’s note in any country, but the US where there is no healthcare system. Keep your passengers and your staff healthy. Again remember, if we die we no longer provide revenue.

7. Put pressure on the Government to end Homeland Theatre nonsense. Yes, of course we need to screen for guns and hatchets, but we do not need to screen for peanut butter and yogurt. While peanut butter is not a pourable liquid, homeland theatre cannot figure that out. We take off our shoes and go through the motions, many of which are pretty stupid. Plastic explosives can be put in the form of a debit, or credit card and easily brought on board. Bomb sniffing dogs would be much more helpful than the nonsense convoluted system we have. You have the power to demand it be fixed, fix it.

8. Put pressure on the airports to end the walk through duty free. At least have an asthma exit. I can’t tell you how many times I have been hit with an asthma attack walking through the fragrance section of the duty free section. Once again a dead passenger no longer produces revenue.

This is for you Doug Parker, AA CEO, Ed Bastian, CEO Delta, Sean Doyle, CEO British, Anne Rigail, CEO, Air France, Scott Kirby, CEO United and just for fun, Michael O’Leary, CEO Ryan Air. We know you take pride in having the worst customer service on earth, but because the fares are so cheap in Europe we kinda love you. The seatbelt thing, you can do that, you will shock and delight your passengers if you do. And you love to shock.