Airlines shrinking carry-on size, what’s next?

Just when we thought flying on a plane could not get ANY worse. Yes, they are trying to put in more seats, so that you basically are required to sit upright the entire time, a bag of peanuts is going to cost $3, and drinks will BYOB (all my jokes). All joking aside there does not seem to be much more they can take from us while on a flight, and instead it tends to go the other direction that everything is costing passengers more money.

So, when I saw this Fast Company article, “Good for Luggage Manufacturers, Bad for Travelers: Carry-on Bag Size to Shrink by 21%” I about lost it. What else are they going to do? The interesting part is that it looks like the current carry-on size is 22 inches tall, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches deep. The new guidelines would mean 21.5 inches tall, 13.5 inches wide, and 7.5 inches deep. They are only shaving a half-inch off two sides and 1.5 inches off another, yet, every inch counts! I am not one to check my luggage. I have to be going far enough and long enough that I need to take enough to warrant a larger suitcase. Even then, I do all I can to see how I can make do with a smaller carry-on. Less hassle and the wonder of if I will see my bag again, and it means I travel light. Oh, and did I mention that it saves me money because I do not have to pay to check my luggage (knock on wood, as that too could change).

The article states that the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) has put forth these guidelines and it is voluntary if airlines want to comply. Something tells me that Samsonite, Tumi, Victorinox, and others are in on this deal? It means more business for luggage companies if the guidelines go into effect than those flying the friendly skies are going to have to pay up (in more ways than one) to travel comfortably. What is next, seat sharing to save money? How about seat belt sharing?

What is confusing is that if some airlines comply with guidelines and others do not, it makes for an interesting trip. These are guidelines that should be standard across all airplanes of similar types. So that when you get to China, your bag will fit just the same in Brazil. This is not customer service, it is just another way to steal from customers. Can we stop, and go back to the days when traveling was supposed to feel like a luxury?

Look nice or be comfy?

I read an article yesterday about looking nice while traveling on an airplane, and my first thought was: “Hell No!” Apologies if you feel that it is kind to dress up for your fellow passengers. I think about the miles you sometimes have to walk to go from one terminal to the next, often running to catch a plane on a layover. I am amazed when I see women do so in five-inch heels. I can barely make it a few hours at an event while in 3 inch heels, I cannot imagine doing it while traveling. Next, you sit for hours. Whether at the airport waiting for your flight, and then to take off, during your flight, and often waiting on the runway once you have landed. Why, oh why should we be dressed up?

I for one feel like there is a happy medium. I want to be comfortable at all costs. Think about it. You are in a pressurized cabin, things contract and expand. All the more reason that I want to have an elastic waistband. The temperature goes hot and cold and you have no way to regulate it. I want breathable fabrics. Depending on the size of the plane your floor area might be freezing and the ceiling much hotter. I make sure to wear layers, and have a pair of socks, and a jacket if needed.

I think back to a recent TV show called: “Pan-Am” that truly showed and reminded us of the glamour associated with flying the friendly skies. This Boston Globe article brings that idea to life. Men in suits, women in their own form of suits. Dress codes. Can you imagine today if there was still a dress code to get on a plane? In some ways, maybe it is not such a bad idea (I know we have all seen a scary sight on a plane, even smelled some too), but if dress and style supersede comfort, than I would take comfort any day.

The Boston Globe article mentions how you dress is how you get treated. Yes, but remember we are not going into a five-star restaurant. An airplane is no longer a place to be seen. I am the girl with the flip-flops, and while I am not wearing my pajamas, I am wearing comfy tights. Should the conversation be more about hygiene than about clothing?

That just covers style, comfort, and clothing. What about the food?

The Perfect Airport Experience?

I know this article is from almost a year ago, but the ideas are still valid. It is a Harvard Business Review article called: “Is Kindness a Strategy?” It is about how an American Airlines employee treated a customer (Frank) with kindness (read the article for his full story). The employee decided to help Frank, who was late for his flight. She made an extra effort to get him through security and onto his flight at the last-minute.

Ah, do you dream of that happening to you? Have you not wanted to go to the airport, have someone take your car and park it for you? You then go to security and get moved to the front of the line, walk to the gate and walk right on the plane, immediately they shut the doors and the plane takes off. There are no delays on the runway, and you are in the air and land on time. The plane goes immediately to your gate, you are at the front of the plane so you get off first, and someone has a car waiting for you when you get outside the airport. Is it a dream? Is it your reality? There are some that might valet their car, go through the First Class line in security, and go right on to the plane, but it is not the reality for most of us that fly the friendly skies.

I wish this could be the experience of all of us when we travel. Even though it is not, it does make me think about what is possible. Travel companies could definitely be more creative to find ways to WOW their customers. Which makes me think back to the title of the article: “Is Kindness a Strategy?” Maybe it should be. I agree with the author, American will now be Frank’s favorite airline. It would be mine, if I had Frank’s experience. What can travel companies do to make us more loyal? Surprise us. Give the upgrade when there are seats in First Class. Give a free rental car because they can tell we have had a rough day. Empower their employees to have more flexibility to make these types of decisions.

It may make a world of difference to their customers.


We Deserve More On Airplanes

I am always in awe that an airplane can fly. I do not take that for granted. We get into a metal contraption, and fly through the friendly skies. It is a mostly natural event in many of our lives, and it used to be one that was a luxury. Today it seems to feel like herding cattle. It is no longer much fun, and no longer feels luxurious. Sure, we have the ability to have wi-fi Internet, while flying at 30,000 feet. Pretty amazing if you really think about it. In recent years, I have heard folks get pissed off on an airplane when the wi-fi or TVs do not work. Annoying right? I mean annoying that someone would complain about it. I mean you are flying 30,000 feet in the air. Yes, I will say it again, you are flying, quit complaining!

Having said all that my bone to pick (here is where that saying came from) is that they charge you for everything. We recently flew across the country on Delta. They are usually the airline we fly. I do not have any problems with Delta. In the last few months though they have put more fees on things. It is starting to get annoying. I fear that soon I will have to use my credit card to pay to use the bathroom whenever I fly. Trust me that could get expensive. Whatever happened to customer service and caring for your customers? Think back to when flying was a luxury and way less expensive. It was about service. The TV screen in the seat in front of me had movies and TV shows. They used to be free. Now it is $6 for a movie, and $6 for any amount of TV (or $1 a show). On our flight the TVs were not working. I was not annoyed that they were not working, I understand that happens. I was frustrated that we have yet another fee. Seriously. We pay hundreds and thousands of dollars to fly around the world and we have to pay more for a few hours of entertainment in a seat that we can barely move around in, while eating pretzels and horrible coffee. (It was. I even heard the flight attendant tell the other flight attendant the coffee they made was bad).

flight #1 TV broken

What has it come to? We now pay to check bags, we may eventually have to pay for our carry on bags. We have to pay for real food, and now we cannot even get free entertainment. Ugh. It is annoying. Yes, I am still grateful for the amazing feat that we can even fly the friendly skies, but airlines, if you are listening, save something to brag about – give us a little customer service. Please. A little can go a long way.

#2 flight – this plane needs to go into retirement

Happy Monday!