Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What People Actually Want from Airlines

The airline industry is on the rise and on the decline at the same time. While it's become (somewhat) more affordable to fly to more and more destinations, the lure of travel is such that many of us are willing to put up with a lot to see the world. It's not just the trial of security screenings and sneaky fuel and airport improvement charges that balloon discount pricing on advertisements; so much of the travel experience today is downright awful.

Which is why it's mind-boggling, to say the least, to see airlines revert back to sexist policies regarding their attendants. Recently, GoAir has decided to implement a policy that they will only hire women attendants, seemingly because of weight restrictions. Others have enforced strict makeup and weight restrictions to keep their attendants attractive and somehow happier, perpetuating the old 'sky waitress' stereotype of Pan Am days.

This sounds a lot like one of those policies that only applies to business class douches. While they recline and ogle pretty women with trays of champagne, the rest of us are crammed like cattle in ever smaller cabins with virtually no aisle room. Our luggage is misplaced or abused, the airline wants credit cards for movies and pillows and people of average height finally get to experience what life would be like as an accordion.

Look, the public is not hard to please. While it may seem like we're a sweating mass of lowlifes who need to be medicated, our demands are not terrible. Most of the public can agree that they just want the following 3 things out of a flight:

1- Get us and our luggage to our destination relatively on time.
2- Don't kill us.
3- A sky toilet.

Nowhere on that list are there demands for attractive wait staff. Quite frankly, most of us would be happy with vending machines on board, so long as they didn't take up too much space. If it wasn't for the fact that they are supposedly trained to assist us in emergencies, we wouldn't bother with staff at all. But the very fact that they can assist in emergencies makes them so much more valuable than sky waitresses. So maybe they should use those qualifications instead.

Nobody ever says this after a flight:

"Man, that was horrible! We were 6 hours late, a baby screamed in my ear and I paid 6 bucks for a soda. But man, did you see how hot that stewardess was?"

The hunt for profit in the airline industry is killing it. Lower fares are not the answer when you oversell flights, cram people and their stuff on too small planes causing weight issues, and undercut your staff because you think of them as smiling serving trays.

Personally, I would pay more money and go on less and better trips if only the airlines would make the trip worthwhile. Widen the aisles, put in less and more spacious seats, make the sky toilet slightly larger than a Manhattan apartment and stop cheaping out on extras that make flying tolerable, like movies and pillows.

Normally, I would add 'treat us like human beings' on the list, but really, that's not all that important. If the flight is (relatively) on time, the luggage makes it as safe as I do, the seat and aisles have space, the toilet is clean and the plane arrives without exploding, I don't really care if the attendants answer my questions or bring me potato chips. That is all I'm paying for and that is what I'd like in return. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

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