There are few things in this world that anger me more than air travel. We pay for the privilege of being abused for a day, all for what? Arriving a little bit sooner? Personally, I prefer to drive or take a train. If I have the time, that’s what I do. But more often than not, the “easier” way to go is by plane. I endure stoically, but boiling beneath the surface is a volcano of rage. Rage at the airlines, for their lack of accountability. Rage at airports, for their incompetence. Rage at the government for not solving an easy problem.
When a person goes bankrupt, his life becomes very difficult. When an airline goes bankrupt, as almost all of them have in the last decade, the people who suffer are not the ones who stupidly drove their company to ruin. The employees suffer and the passengers suffer. I would say we suffer together, but circumstances prove that we are pitted against each other, like dogs in the same cage. The FAA and the airlines and the airport authorities trap us all in an enclosed space and watch us fight, when we really want them.
Instead of making this post all rage and no substance, I will now lay out my master plan for airline travel. This post can be printed out very easily and submitted to your Congressperson, if you so desire.
1) Invest in a new computer system. Control towers use an incomprehensibly outdated computer system for tracking take-offs and landings. An overhaul of this system will save everyone time and do wonders for morale.
2) Abolish airport security. What kind of a world do we live in where we have to take off our shoes to sit on an airplane? Would you like me to take off my pants, too? This only serves to belittle paying customers. Instead of baggage inspectors, hire two or three military-trained guards to ride on every plane. Have them stand on either side of the gate as the passengers enter the plane. The only checkpoint you need in an airport is a simple metal detector. Oh, and let everybody wait at the gates. It’s always nice to see a friendly face when you step off the plane.
3) Rip out seats in airplanes. We’re crammed in there so tightly you can hear the heartbeat of the person sitting next to you. Take out every other row, or take out a column so there are two seats across instead of three. Airlines have already proven they can’t make money by packing people into planes; why don’t they try something different? Make more flights in smaller planes. They might even see people flying more often, if it is a pleasant experience and not something to be endured.
4) Don’t make passengers sit in an airplane that is not going to take off. Have you ever sat on the runway for an hour or more? It makes you want to strangle somebody.
These suggestions are not revelatory. They are so simple. Airlines have proven they cannot handle the business of flying people around, yet they are still allowed to do so. The Wright brothers (and their physics-minded sister, Katharine) invented a great thing. What we need today is a different kind of invention. We made air travel; we now need to make air travel pleasant.