I am a frequent flyer (95% work related).
All told, in the past 12 months, I made over 100 flights around this fantastic ball of dirt, water and gas we call Earth. In the last 10 years, over 2000 sectors.
I’ve had some great flying experiences. I’ve had some awful flying experiences.
One of the downsides of flying is that you have to interact, a lot, with a lot of people. On the whole, people suck. You’ve met them, so you know what I mean.
Nowadays, I must admit, I predominantly fly First Class – don’t begrudge me, you would too.
But I also make loads of smaller, internal domestic flights, and not all have a Business Class option. So today, we’re talking domestic, cattle class only.
Here are Gaz’s Tips for improving the airways. Three for the airlines, and three for passengers, as both contribute to the overall flying experience.
Gaz’s Tips for Airlines:
1. Elbow and Leg Room:
Charge a little more, and cram a few less seats in. There. Simple. You can achieve this without impacting upon your bottom line. I’m a businessman. I get why you maximise the number of seats you can fit in a plane. But airlines, you have pushed it too far. Just because you are filling flights, doesn’t make it right. You are not catering for the masses, but you SHOULD be. Indeed 40% of flyers list this as their biggest gripe, so I’m not Robinson Crusoe here.
I am also quite “big boned”, so I am acutely aware of people’s pleading eyes as I’m walking down the aisle, that scream “please don’t sit next to me, please don’t sit next to me!” Don’t get me wrong, I always pay more whenever I can to buy a little leg room, but the width is fixed in sardine class. As a general rule, I don’t want to rub body parts with a complete stranger, without both parties being consenting adults.
* Armrest territorial wars will be covered in greater detail in the Passenger Tip section.
2. Seat Comfort:
This is not a width thing, or even a girth thing. This is purely about ergonomics. Most airlines seats are akin to an ironing board, bent in half at 90 degrees, but with far less padding. The irony is, airlines of the world – you’re filling your seats, so you should be filling our seats. Seriously, when someone is rummaging in the seat pocket behind my seat, it should not feel like I’m getting a Thai massage. Again, I’m not Charles Darwin here, as this is a major gripe of close to 80% of air travellers. It really does require an industry-wide rethink.
As a busy, corporate traveller, the wait for inflight Wifi has been a long, and frustrating one. The technology is there, and I will choose a carrier with Wifi over one who doesn’t, regardless of any price differential. I want to be able work, stay connected, or keep myself entertained, irrespective of flight duration. Inflight entertainment was a necessary transition, but its appeal is limited. Give us Wifi and we’ll probably bother the attendants less. Pretty sure they’ll like that too.
Gaz’s Tips for Passengers:
1. Armrest Battles:
Ah, the delicate ballet of armrest tenure. Since there are no rules, anarchy reigns supreme.
The point is, there should be rules, and these rules should be read out during the pre-flight spiel, so there is no ambiguity. Here is what I propose:
- If you sit in the aisle seat, you get the aisle-side armrest.
- If you sit in the window seat, you get the window-side armrest.
- If you’re stuck in the middle, you get both. Simple.
Here’s my logic. If you’re in the aisle, you have the space to lean towards the aisle on the armrest (the heightened risk of trolley impact is outweighed by sprawl freedom). If you’re in the window, you have the ability to lean towards the window. If you’re in the middle, your leaning capabilities are hindered. Indeed if you have two selfish armrest hogs, there is nought to do but cross your arms and plot their demise.
2. The Seatbelt Sign Free-For-All:
People, the moment the seatbelt sign flicks off is not the trigger for you to charge into the aisle like ants on a honey trail. What is the point of this exercise? You still need to wait for the passengers nearer the exit to “deplane” before you can budge, so why do you feel the urge to leap out of your seat in order to beat your cross-aisle opponent out of the plane? I don’t like my face being anywhere in the vicinity of your midships, aft or bow. In addition, the spontaneous flurry of action means that any poor sod who had to place his belongings in an overhead locker behind where they were sitting, has to swim upstream like a migrating salmon to collect their carry-ons from the overhead compartment. So seriously, sit the fuck down. Wait for the plane to start clearing, then casually stand, stretch, collect your belongings, and stroll out of the plane. Again, this should be instructed during the pre- and post-flight spiel.
3. Personal Hygiene:
It was down to this, or screaming kids. But sound attenuating headphones eliminate most noises nowadays, no matter how shrill or insistent, so I’d rather eliminate the odours. And folks, it’s real easy.
- Shower before flying.
- Deodorise before flying.
- Wear clean clothes before flying.
- Clean your teeth before flying.
You wouldn’t go to work dishevelled and malodorous, so why subject a complete stranger to it, especially one who will be rubbing shoulders with you for the next few hours?
“Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you” is an apt phrase under the circumstances (but one that will likely get you kicked out of most Gentleman’s special interest establishments).
So it is in the hands of both airlines and passengers to heighten the flying experience for everyone. Who knows, it might even lead to increased membership of the Mile High Club, and not just in the Solo Aviator Division…