Listen up, airlines! We are baby boomers; while you may be chasing younger sections of the air travelers market, we are the ones who spend a lot of money on travel. Work or pleasure, we are out there moving around the country. Some of us are at the peak of our careers and travel quite a bit for business. All of us have the time and money now to fly for pleasure when at earlier points of our lives, we did not. Our kids are grown and we want to go on vacation! Visit our grandkids! Travel the world before we get too feeble! Money is no object, and we have more extra time than you think. Time to consider alternatives to the miseries of air travel.
Guess what, airlines? We don’t like how you’ve been running things, and we plan to vote with our wallets. We had a meeting. Here are our demands:
Seriously, a recent vacation spent with a dozen like-minded friends could not bring us together on topics involving politics, religion, cars, shoes, or even where to get the best pizza. But the one thing we all agreed on is that we all hate air travel. We hate it, do you hear? And we are actively searching for alternatives.
You had better heed us, airlines…..oh I know, you think it’s all about you, and your bottom line of profitability. You feel smug in your near-monopoly of the travel market. We’ll see how profitable it will be for you when we start to boycott your services.
1) Stop making those damn seats so small, packed so close together. Even average sized people have no legroom. As we get older, our knees get more stiff and brittle. We just can’t do it, any more. Or if you want, divide your economy cabin into sections, and charge us a small premium for better seats. We will pay $50 to $100 extra, per seat, to have a slightly more spacious experience. For example, on a night flight to Europe, our only options are the $5K tickets in 1st class, and the $1K tickets in coach. Don’t you understand price points? Can’t you come up with something in the middle?
2) You’d better bring back food – even if you have to charge us $10 more for that $1 rubber chicken you are going to serve us. Going without food makes us cranky, and you won’t like us if we’re cranky. Those crappy sandwiches that cost us $12 aren’t cutting it, either. Look at how many airline customers walk onto a plane these days carrying bags of food- and calculate how that money, spent at airport vendors, could be spent with your airline.
Speaking of airports – we are old, we are tired, we are cranky. We want mini-hotels in airports, like they have in Japan – those cube things. We want to be able to lay down if we are stranded in an airport overnight, or for 7 to 12+ hours, or we need to take a nap. We want a “private type club room” every 5 to 10 gates – we’ll pay for the privilege of admittance- where we can sit in a wide, deep comfy club chair and read or watch tv (using headphones) while someone brings us a drink or a quiet meal. It should look, feel, and smell like an old English gentleman’s club. We want mini-spas where we can get a chair massage or a mani-pedi.
We do not want to sit in a T.G.I.Friday’s, as I did recently at Hartfield Airport in Atlanta, with the music blasting so loud the waiter can’t hear over it to take your order. At this same restaurant, hubster and I watched a dozen wait-persons goof off near the entrance, laughing and slapping each other with menus, while no one came to our table to take our order – till the manager herself had to come do it. We also watched as one of the wait staff dropped my cheeseburger on the floor en route to our table, and watched as this person picked it up and put it back on the bun, before bringing it to our table.(Yes, we sent it back. Took an hour to get another, it arrived cold, and was looked suspiciously like the same piece of meat as the one on the floor.) I will never eat at a T.G.I. Fridays again. I am not sure I will ever eat at Hartfield Airport again.
When we are bored, or have extra time, or even if we are pressed for time , we want to shop at airports for the things we forgot to pack, lost en route, or had to give up to pass security. Why can’t there be a business every 5-10 gates that has easy access, quick in and check-out and sells bottled water, tasty hot meals packaged to go, small hand lotion, a traveler’s neck pillow, a small warm fuzzy blanket, chapstick, etc? Don’t everybody write me emails and tell me about the shops that do sell this stuff – I have been in every major airport in the USA and Europe, and I know there are clusters of these shops at some gates but not others. I also know I have spent many 30 hour “days” connecting from one airport to another- running to catch a flight because the previous one was delayed – and in those dire moments you can never find the kind of shop you need at the gates you are passing. It is one of those fundamental laws of the universe, like if you wear a non-waterproof outfit, it will rain.
Why can’t American airports sell tasty healthy food ? A recent pass through Heathrow found quick offerings that were kosher, halal, vegetarian, from Asia, the Mediterranean – all over the world. I sampled several going west to east and a few more passing back east to west. They were delightful.
“If you build it, they will come.”
As I stated at the beginning of this piece- we are fed up. We are seriously looking into around the world cruises and train travel because air travel has become so hellish. That’s a lot of money airline companies are missing out on.