The Eight Things Airlines Need to Improve, Stat (Besides TSA)

The middle seat. Charging electronics. Baggage fees. For start

By Garrett McGrath

Eight Things Airlines Need to Correct, Stat
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31 May 2016

Great news! You are now free to move about the twenty-first century.

American Airlines, the world’s largest airline company, has stopped on-board announcements of connecting gate information. The change is in direct response to technological advancements — like the fact that smartphone apps and seat-back displays are more than capable of providing that information without talking over the movie you just paid $15 for.

“There’s a lot of ways to get that information, and it wasn’t necessarily helpful to provide that on the airplane. Some people certainly viewed it as an interruption,” American spokesman Joshua Freed said. “So for those folks, we’ll stop interrupting them.”

Great news. Any time airlines take a step toward being less annoying is a time to celebrate. But there are still plenty of things that irk us when we take to the friendly skies. Like ...

Checked baggage
Checking bags is equal parts surprise fees and gambling that it will actually arrive at the gate. And don’t even get us started on the baggage carousel jockeying game.

Airport food courts
New Yorkers are spoiled — at least those lucky enough to fly in and out of Terminal 4 at JFK, with its two Shake Shack locations. (Bonus: Unlike most Shacks, they also have breakfast sandwiches.) GateGuru, at least, can give you the best of the worst.

Crowd control
Crowds gravitate toward each other, but getting into and out of airplanes brings out the worst in people. Airlines need to figure out a more efficient way to board passengers — consistency might help, for starters. Having staff pre-load your carry-ons could also speed things up … and prevent passengers from crowding the gate.

Taxiing for an hour (or more)
One in every five flights departs late. That’s inexcusable. Use websites like Flight Stats to track the worst companies and try to avoid them.

Charging stations at airports
It always seems that when your laptop or iPhone is in the red, you can never find a USB or electricity port. This guide helps a bit.

Smelly food/people
You know who you are. Simple rules: if you bring food, make it inoffensive to the olfactory senses. And don’t take off your shoes. And shower/use deodorant before boarding.

The middle seat
We recently told you about Porter, the greatest airline you’ve never heard of. Along with many other amazing practices, they don’t have middle seats on their planes. Another solution: make the middle seat bigger, and give it dedicated arm rests.

On-board temperature
Like a winged, emergency-exit-bearing Hot Pocket, airplanes are always way too hot or arctic cold. And those little fan controls above your seat don’t do much good.

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