I love to travel. I hate jet lag. Right now I'm suffering from a bit of jet lag after returning from a trip 10 time zones away, so I'm having trouble sleeping. It allowed me to think about ways the airlines could make life so much better for travelers. Yes, I'd like more leg room and a bigger seat, but I understand that costs a fortune. Here are things that could make travel a bit better for not much money.
1. Tell us when our bag missed the flight.
Before we took off a few weeks ago, the captain came on the loudspeaker and said, "a couple of people decided last minute not to fly with us, so we have to remove their baggage." Well, what if they did the reverse? Everything is computerized, and bags get scanned. Couldn't they tell you, before you land, that your bag didn't make it? That way, instead of standing at the baggage claim until it stops moving and then filing a missing bag report, you could save the time by filing the claim immediately.
I know this is possible because, years ago, the airline lost my son's car seat. When I finally found an employee and said, "My son's car seat didn't arrive" she said immediately, "you must be Suzanne Lucas."
If the airlines informed you before landing, you could fill out a card with your address for bag delivery, hand it to the flight attendant and head straight out of the airport. People would start cheering when you lost our bags.
2. Get your computers to speak to each other.
When my husband and I checked in for a flight from Seattle to Frankfurt, with a layover in Calgary, the Alaska Airlines employee at the check-in counter couldn't give us a seat assignment. "You'll have to get that at the gate," he said, "but you are confirmed." He also couldn't give us our boarding passes for the flight from Calgary to Frankfurt. "You can get those in Calgary!"
We ended up getting our boarding passes from the lounge. She explained that the check-in employee couldn't give us an assignment because we weren't sitting together. We said we were sure we'd be fine separated for the 1-hour flight.
Then, we had to stand in line again in Calgary to get our boarding passes for the next flight. Seriously, airlines, this would save you money. We had to speak to three employees to get something that could have been done with a self-check-in computer. Is that the best use of manpower? It's terrible customer service, but it also means your employees have to deal with crabby passengers when they wouldn't have to otherwise.
Little things make the difference
There are things the airlines have little control over--the cost of fuel, and TSA hassles, for instance. (My computer got pulled out for special treatment this time around, but no full body pat downs.) But they could do a few little things to make flying less stressful. Start thinking like someone who is exhausted and cranky and you might come up with ideas to make life a bit better for travelers.