The Simplest Things Could Make Airlines Better

Author Bio: Chris Oquist of Banyan Pilot Shop prefers to fly his own planes. When he does travel on commercial airlines, he prefers the best experience possible.

One of the things I love most about being a pilot is that I get to fly without having to deal with commercial airliners too much. Don’t get me wrong, commercial airlines are awesome, they’ve allowed the average human being to get anywhere on the earth in a relatively short amount of time—but for somebody with a pilot’s license who just likes to fly, they are nothing more than long-range transport solutions. For those of you with driver’s licenses, just imagine what it would be like to have to ride the bus all the time, crammed in that metal tube with all of those other passengers, coughing, farting, puking, screaming, etc. Here are some things that airlines could do for all of us just a little bit better.

Seating

It’s really no secret that most flyer complaints come from seating. A lot of airlines are more focused on profit than anything, so fitting more people in one flight is what they will naturally be inclined to do. On top of that, airline seats are built to be as lightweight as possible to ensure that the aircraft can fly—this results in every little kick or shuffle to be felt from the passengers behind you. If the commercial airliners would give just a little so that their seats have higher “pitch”, aka the legroom/reclining room between the front and back of seats. Cathay Pacific, who offers massage chairs in first-class, seems to have this on lock already.

Better Food

The Huffington Post recently published an interesting piece on airplane food, explaining that one reason that food tastes… “different” on airlines is that cabin humidity drops by about 15 percent. This means that there is less humidity in the air and in the back of your throat, so smell and taste aren’t registered by the brain as well, with decreases in taste between 20 to 50 percent. Science aside, I wouldn’t call any economy class meal that I’ve ever had “gourmet”. Certain airlines such as Turkish have “Flying Chefs”, but for the rest of us, we’re stuck with pre-processed and packaged chicken cordon bleu.

Quiet Zones

I’m not just talking about first class here—I mean give us a section of the fuselage where we can go, sit down, and not have to hear you talking on your cellphone while your teenager’s handheld game console goes “bleep, bloop”, and your youngest is screaming and kicking on the back of seats. Put us at the back of the plane, we wouldn’t care. With the ban on cellphone use during commercial flights facing the possibility of being lifted, this may become more of a reality than you know. Unfortunately, you’ll probably be paying an arm and a leg too.

Of course, everybody could just go to flight school and learn to get themselves wherever, but I don’t think that everybody would find that to be a reasonable suggestion. Oh well. As for me, I will continue to fly myself whenever I can, and will pick the tastiest, most spacious, and quietest airlines when I can’t.

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