Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Bet You Are Not Thinking About Airline Stress Now?

Now check out these 10 REAL ways that Airlines can reduce travel stress and improve passenger cooperation and behavior.

Give those hot moist towelettes to everybody on the flight. The hot towel amenity common in first class is both highly relaxing and very humanizing. I find it almost instantly relaxes and refreshes me. It's a little thing, but these add up.

Give everybody a bottle of water on their way onto the airplane. This is another "first class" amenity. Good hydration in the midst of reduced aircraft humidity and air conditioning is important. When you feel better, you act better. This is especially true when the plane is small and the seats are full.

Suggest an ideal time in flight for restroom breaks. Schedule a suggested rest room visit by passengers before cabin beverage service and several minutes before the "fasten seat belts for landing" call. This prevents the "bolt to the bathroom" at inconvenient operational times.

Sell good quality food products onboard. US Airways does this and it works WELL. I've eaten enough Biscoff cookies thanks. For flights longer than two hours, give me the option to buy something good to eat. Most people will pay for the choice and be happy to do it.

Show the good behavior films to the Flight Attendants. Flight Attendants are only human. Crowded flights, smaller planes, and high-pressure turn times don't seem to make a good combination. Good behavior is a two way street. Cranky passengers surely make for cranky Flight Attendants. If the flight attendant is stressed, nothing in the back of the bus is going to go well.

Captains need to talk more. Airlines often push back from the gate in order to preserve government mandated on-time departure statistics, only to go to a reserve holding lot for an extended wait before departure. Most passengers are irritated, but understand this is air traffic controlled. Pilots who communicate both the "why" and the "how long", early in the wait will find that the folks in the back really appreciate the information. Captains who forget about the passengers really create irritation. This goes for weather holds too. Air travels' biggest weakness is the lack of control passengers feel once aboard the plane. When you are in an uncomfortable place, with no possibility of escape, and little control over of your environment, tempers are going to flare. Nobody wants to be treated like cargo.

Flight Attendants who have control of the aircraft PA system need to speak good, fluent English. While there is an absolute need for international air crews, it is often difficult to understand cabin personnel for whom English is a second language. Accents can be hard to understand. Multi-lingual staffing is a requirement in today's global environment, but give the microphone to an American on US domestic flights. It really does help.

Go back to Airline flight crew height and weight restrictions. When one of the videos from Delta concerns passengers bumping into each other on their way to the lavatory, airlines ought to consider the same when an overweight flight attendant trundles down the aisle with a beverage cart. I've gotten hip checked more times than I want to count!

Offer a discount to Passengers who CHECK baggage. Airline turn times decrease by as much as 10 minutes per turn when passengers all check baggage. That much was proven in 2005 when TSA first restricted all liquids in carry on baggage. However, for purposes of convenience and fear of lost bags, most passengers take the ubiquitous "black roll aboard" bag onto the airplane. Getting on and off the plane works twice as fast when people check bags. I do it every week. Given the savings involved for the airline, give passengers a piece of the savings for playing along. Discounting is only one option. How about increasing the number of frequent flyer miles awarded for flights where passengers check bags or day passes to airline clubs?

Steal an Idea from the Parcel Carriers - provide real time baggage tracking. If you want people to check bags, provide a scanning update to a passengers PDA just like you can get from any of the parcel carriers when an express package passes a scan point. I'm a lot happier checking bags when I change planes if I get a message that says my bag made the same change.

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