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Six Major Airline Follies That Could Be Fixed

December 27, 2012 at 3:55 PM | by | ()

We've seen a lot happen on planes in our time.

There've been massive delays on the tarmac, medical emergencies, flights that turn around half way through, ones where we've sat next to off-duty pilots and flight attendants, and witnessed what happens when the smoke alarm in the bathroom goes off and everybody freaks out. We've also put up with our fair share of drunk passengers, which is the only in-flight entertainment we get to see on most flights.

Dealing with a delay or a drunk now and then is fine, but more and more, our experiences have led us to become frustrated by what seems to be a complete lack of common sense in terms of the way things go down on airplanes. Old policies are showing their age and new policies have failed to fix anything; they're making things worse.

With the holiday season travel in full force, you're no doubt having your own adventure. Here are six fixable airline follies that have us in a tailspin of late:

1. Not Boarding the Back of the Plane First:
In our opinion, the boarding policies of airlines not only double the time it should take for everyone to get settled, it also breeds tension for those with carry-ons who are not in the first few zones. And how many times have you found yourself standing on a cold or hot jetway thanks to a bottleneck on board? Or been knocked in the head by someone's luggage as they forge past you towards their seat behind you? Boarding the back of the plane first just makes sense, period.

2. Lack of Cup Holders:
Okay, so, can someone explain this to us? No cup holders on a vehicle known for sudden drops and turbulence? Is that little circle in the tray really supposed to make us feel comfortable in that small space, especially with all the electronics around? Where do you put the drink when you have to get under the tray and into a bag? In your lap? On your neighbor's tray? A fold-out cup holder, perhaps placed on the front of the seat in between our calves, would go a long way to helping organize our personal space and avoiding spills.

3. Not Assigning Overhead Space to Seats:
The emergence of bag fees has sparked carry-on fever, and it seems the rules have pretty much gone out the window. We've witnessed those with small bags having to check them due to the overhead space being full, meanwhile many of the bags in the overhead are larger than the allowed dimensions and turned sideways to fit, taking up the space of two bags. Why not assign every seat an overhead space and if your giant monstrosity of a suitcase doesn't fit, then we'll burn it (or check it)? Unless the security checkpoints, gate agents, and flight attendants want to start cracking down on oversized carry-ons, divvying up the space seems like the only fair solution.

4. Boring Safety Briefing:
What do you say that, by purchasing an airline ticket, you agree that you understand how to buckle a seat belt? For Christ's Sake already—does that phony performance annoy anyone else? Some flight attendants now make jokes during it, rolling their eyes when talking about the seat belt and other safety measures. We're not sure anyone is listening (certainly no one reads the safety card in the seat pocket), and it's time to let the lawyer's handle the dirty work: Put that speech in the fine print.

5. That Damn Drink Cart:
A few airlines are finally catching on to the fact that the drink cart causes more chaos than it's worth. On our last US Air flight, the attendants came and took a few rows of drink orders, then returned with a tray. The aisles were clear, the bathrooms were accessible, passengers' elbows were safe, and those in aisle seats didn't feel cramped or claustrophobic due to a large metal box being parked next to them. How many times have you been woken up by that thing (or the flight attendant essentially standing over you)? It might increase service time by a few minutes, but get rid of the drink cart. Don't even get us started on the snack cart.

6. What, No More Movies?:
Remember the good old days of movies being shown on almost every flight? You didn't have to pay, and it just came on a few minutes after take off? Apparently DVDs are too expensive for airlines nowadays. Perhaps they could put the money from one of their Gogo WiFi sales towards a copy of Forrest Gump or something—it was a steep $13 for the duration of the flight and has since gone up.

Got an airline pet peeve? Know how you would fix it? Let us know in the comments below!

[Photo: Jaunted]

Archived Comments:

Re: #1 and #3

If I have a bags I'm looking to fit in the overhead spaces, that's when you'll find me waiting in the queue. Otherwise, no matter where I'm sitting, I try to be one of the last to board. Also, there isn't exactly a good seat:overhead space ratio, vis-a-vis assign overhead space. If I didn't need my allotted space for a particular flight...it may be better to make that a fee then, a la Spirit? Reveal the auxiliary charge as you're purchasing a ticket online, so the customer can deselect it.