Off Subject, But…..How to Improve Air Travel

I’m getting ready to head out on a business trip tomorrow, so I decided to revise and re-run one of my older posts.  It’s still accurate, but I needed to add a couple of points.  It’s not exactly Southern Gothic, but what the hell…. It’s my blog.

And air travel is definitely an absurd experience in the USA now, so I figure it fits thematically…

I’ve never seen an industry go downhill as fast as the airlines.  They have used 9/11 as an excuse to avoid any attempts at Customer service.  After our tax dollars bailed them out.

Think about that, those of you who don’t want to extend unemployment benefits.  We bail out entire incompetently run businesses, then people complain if we try to help the average person…

One of the reasons I don’t post as often as I might like is that I travel on business about 50% of the time. I’ve been doing this for almost 15 years now and I’ve really seen first hand the decline in quality of life for airline travelers. A lot of it– most of it– is the fault of the airlines, but my fellow travelers are also contributing heavily to the unpleasantness of travel through their own behavior. Here are 14 suggestions I think would improve the process for all of us.

1.Weld all airline seats to a stationary position. I’m tired of some drunken businessman laying in my lap and blocking my reading light all the way across the country.   I never recline my seat.   Not only does this lead to poor posture, I find the seat is even more uncomfortable reclined than upright. Exceptions would be made for overnight flights only.

2. Allow pets in the cabin and put ill-behaved children in the cargo hold in pet carriers. Not only would it deter terrorists if we had numerous dogs loose in the cabin, it would be much more pleasant than having some kid kicking your seat from coast to coast, screaming and crying at the top of their lungs or whining attractively.

3. Either increase the width of the seat or enforce the policy for severely over weight people to have to buy two seats.   God knows I could lose a few pounds and I hate to say this, but it really makes for an uncomfortable flight if the person next to you taking half of your space.  If you have spent 5 hours hanging halfway into the aisle or unable to move your shoulders because the person next to you takes up so much space, you will know what I mean.

4. Limit carry on bags and enforce the limits. I’m sick and tired of people practically dragging steamer trunks onto 30 seater planes, then seeming amazed that they don’t fit in the overhead.

5. Deliver checked luggage in a timely manner. We now have to pay the airlines to handle checked baggage, so they should handle it quickly. I’m tired of waiting up to 45 minutes after landing for my bags to arrive.

6. Ban carry on food.  Either provide it or sell it, but don’t make me smell a meatball sub for hours in a confined, ill-ventilated space.

7. Define “weather” delays so the airlines don’t use it as a catch-all excuse not to staff or schedule appropriately or pay for hotel rooms for passengers they leave stranded.  I’ve seen the airlines use this excuse too many times when they strand people for several days due to canceled flights when there either is no weather issue or it was several days previous to the delay or cancellation.

8. Don’t let airlines claim an “on time” departure from pushback from the gate. Require it to be when the plane actually is airborne. This would greatly reduce the time spent sitting on planes on the tarmac.

9. Start calling “Flight Attendants” Stewards and Stewardesses again. This might bring their attitudes down a notch and make them a little less uppity and mean.

10.  Ban Flip Flops.  If, god forbid, there were an emergency these fools would cause half the people on the plane to die because they don’t have appropriate footwear.  Just think if there was a fire, crash landing, etc.  Would you want to be crawling over hot, tangled metal shoeless or with little pieces of plastic melted to your feet?  These people would delay the process and endanger everyone on the plane.  This isn’t just a style preference, this is a safety issue.

11.  Make people dress appropriately for travel in all other ways.  If you wear shorts and a tank top on a plane, you should expect to be cold.  Don’t make them turn down the air conditioning so those of us who are dressed appropriately for travel, burn up.

12. Just start over. Nationalize the airlines and resell them to someone with a viable new business plan and customer focused strategy. We’ve gone so far downhill, this may be the only true fix….

13.  Remove the requirement that the Airlines be majority US owned.  I’m thinking Richard Branson.  Virgin Atlantic is a wonderful airline.  It seems only American’s no longer know how to run an airline.  Other countries do this much better…either learn from them or let them go ahead and run ours.

14.  Make them clean the damn planes.  I actually found a used diaper in my seat back pocket once.  When the stewards and stewardess come down the aisle to collect trash, I’m thinking we should all start keeping it and throwing it in the floor before we leave.  That may be the only way to force them to clean the planes.  Now, they expect us to do that ourselves, too.

More to come…I’ve got 3 more business trips over the next month or so…

And here’s a look at the way air travel once was:

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2 Responses to Off Subject, But…..How to Improve Air Travel

  1. happypoppeye says:

    Good article and although, before reading, I thought I would agree with most of what you say, I actually disagree with quite a bit – knowing that it is all opinion. I haven’t eally flown in the US for a few years but have taken almost a hundred international flights in the last four, so I’m sort of basing my comparison on US vs. International.

    First off, you said “They have used 9/11 as an excuse to avoid any attempts at Customer service.” – I totally agree there. My Lord.

    1) I do see your point, but options are always good…
    2) Ha!!! …you have a point.
    3) …hmmm, not gonna go there.

    4) & 5) I don’t think I’ve been on a flight that didn’t have enough romm for more carry-ons actually. I’ve even been on flights where the airline actually tried to get me to take my checked luggage on as a carry-on. You shouldn’t have to pay for luggage in my opinion unless you have an extraordinary amount. Yes, add to that that you have to wait, and a posiibility of having your luggage stolen or lost. …I say screw you airlines. Note: this pay for luggage thing seems to be a US phenomenon only…

    6) No way. Ban bad airline food. I have no problem with carry on food. I say stop trying to serve all these fancy dishes. Serve pizza or something like that and this will cut the amount of carry on food drastically. I think all US airlines should go over to Thai or Malaysian Air and take a lesson from them. Great food.

    7 & 8) They suck. …Period…

    9) The US has the worst stewardesses in the world, bar none. Again, try flying Thai, Malaysian, Emirates, Cathay, JAL, Jet or any other foreign non-EU airline. The stewardesses are smiling, nice, all too willing to help you, and generally enjoy and like their jobs. I think it’s the mentality of the US workforce these days. Absolute crap service. This is why I try my very hardest not to fly US airlines (PS: I am American and live in the US). Ya know, I am thinking of last year when I flew Ariana Airlines – the national airline of Afghanistan. The stewards there put any US flight I was on to shame…

    10) I love flip-flops. I’ll take the chance.

    11) Didn’t know they could turn the air down …and I don’t see any reason for a dress code, not at all, but don’t chnage cabin settings because of it.

    12) Get rid of them – they can’t compete and they don’t know how.

    13) Agree…

    14) Never really had this issue, but I feel your pain.

    Good one,

  2. happypoppeye says:

    …Hey, “8” became a emoticon or whatever they are called…

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