The Lost Cachet of Air Travel

Do you remember when flying on a big airliner (and with a major airline) was exciting?

Only 10 years ago I was a very loyal United fan.  I told everyone how much I enjoyed flying them, my frequent flier points often bumped me to business class and I generally felt that I was part of a club when flying United vs anyone else. Most importantly, I would not fly with anyone else regardless of price (as long as United was flying there). By treating me as a valued guest they created a raving fan.

Oh how times have changed.  I now avoid flying United at all costs. My latest attempt to try to use up old miles bought me a first class seat to LA that had me enter the gate across a dirty red mat (Calling it a carpet would be insulting to all carpets), sitting in a seat that was falling apart, a choice of food that was not actually available on the plane and a portable DVD player that had me tangled up in wires across both sides of my seat. Not the experience First Class should be.

Growing up I used to always get dressed up when I would fly.  If people stopped to think about what it took to “jump” from New York to Los Angeles perhaps they would realize the remarkable treat it actually is.  What if the airlines did a better job reminding you of that story?

Now more than ever, we long for simpler times.  Don’t get me wrong, the live TV and wi-fi at 38,000 feet is great, but the romance that delivered such a memorable experience has been lost along the way.  An airline that can capture that would set it itself apart.  Simple elegance in flight,etc…  There are no costs involved here.  This is about the culture of an organization.  At its most basic, it is about the love of flight.

The old guard airlines have to find a way to deliver that experience and romance again if they want the loyalty and word of mouth that will sustain them through these tough times.  A big and fun challenge for an Airline ready to think beyond checked bag fees.  The kind of purpose an entire company can rally around.

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