|Frequent Flier Pointers|
suggestions for airlines
After travelling a while I have pretty well got over my 'white-knuckle' days of flying. Now it's no longer takeoffs and landings that trouble me. I'm irked more by some of the finer points, and I'd like to share some of them in the hope that out there is a Very Influential Somebody who can work on them and fix what I feel are the more irritating aspects of travel – particularly the long-haul variety.
These VIS's (aka airline executives) are constantly studying trends, spending long hours in exotic locations debating how best to score a point or two from their opposition, and investing huge amounts in advertising, promotional activities and incentives. They want ideas, they need feedback they tell us. So the following valuable information (given, you will notice, freely and without thought of compensation – though a first-class ticket to the Bahamas would suit OK) is available to any airline who has the business sense and flair to dare to put them into practice.
Load passengers by row – and seat - number. Most make token efforts at this. 'Rows 40-53 may now board,' the loudspeaker tells us. What we know though is that the ten people in Row 40 are all related, each have six pieces of hand luggage, and want to get fully settled before anyone in rows 41 onwards can move along the aisles. Meanwhile the loudspeaker is already calling 'Rows 20-39....' If all the window seats were filled first, then the centres, what a difference that alone would make.
Book by seat size. You know that your diet has slipped a bit lately, but when the armrests of the seat bite disturbingly into your thighs, you realise it is finally time to cut down. Too late for this nine-hour trip, wouldn't it be so much better (and we're talking economy class here – Business and First do much better in the hip-width department) if you could book by size? 'I'll have a Size 16, please,' is all you would have to murmur at the booking counter and you could be assured of a comfortable seat – and guilt-free indulgence in the duty-free chocolate you bought at the airport!
Show sad movies. How often have you just dropped off to sleep after the midnight meal that is pretending to be dinner somewhere else 39,000 feet below you, when the movie rolls onto the screen? Too tired to watch it, you settle down, yet for the next two hours, the whole plane is shaken by regular gales of laughter as everybody except you (it seems) is wide awake, having a hilarious time watching the on-screen antics. How much better it would be to show a tear-jerker that would keep them quietly sobbing so you could sleep in peace.
Book all sneezers together. You are off on the trip you have planned for all year and saved half a lifetime for. Scarcely have you buckled the seatbelt, than someone behind you sneezes – hard. Is it an allergy? Some dust? Or have they just sprinkled your air-space with the seeds of the virus that will ruin your trip? Airlines should smarten up and require medical checks before boarding and sit all potential health hazards in a clearly marked quarantine section.
Sit babies behind people who want to stay awake all night. And put all children with restless legs behind people who enjoy having their seats kicked. The latter may be hard to find, but a few simple questions when booking might yield one or two.
Issue water-based felt pens so we can write on our foreheads if we want to be woken for meals/damp washers/water/juice/headsets/or landing. I can't understand why attendants feel threatened by sleeping passengers and seem to have an uncontrollable urge to offer something to anyone they encounter who has just nodded off.
Set up a ticket system for the toilets. This would be a real winner. Take your ticket from a dispenser in the aisle, return to your seat and wait. 'Now serving No....,' will flash on the toilet sign. Just think of it: no more hanging about in knots cramping the passengers at the exit seat, blocking the movie, or bribing those in front with foreign currency.
VIS, take notice. These simple strategies could help airlines sell more seats and result in vastly better satisfied passengers.
And if you want to contact me with a little sign of your gratitude – my business card is in the pocket of the seat with the strained armrests.
- Sally Hammond
To: OUTbound Travel
60 Martin Rd,
Suite #07-33 TradeMart Singapore,
Please Pay: Mrs Sally Hammond
50 Consul Rd,
Tel./Fax (02) 939 6740
S$160 as offered exclusive for first Asian serial rights
for Frequent Flier Points
Thankyou for your acceptance of this material and I shall look forward to working with you again in the future.
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