Thursday 15 September 2011

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This is What Frequent Flyers Want?

This morning's Wall Street Journal ran an article on the charter flight that I took last week.  Here's a link to the story, which includes a video interview that reads a whole lot more into what was going on than I think most of us were aware of.  I remember seeing Mr. McCartney along on the journey, and although I never did get around to talking to him, he seemed very much to fit in with our group of lunatics.

Our Charter Plane
Who he was talking with to get the idea of what frequent flyers want is beyond me though.  I don't know that any of us considered this trip as a chance to "play airline".  I suppose it's true that the leaders of StarMegaDo3 did organize the charter, set the price, and arrange the in-flight details, and they did a fantastic job of it.  If Tommy and Ed were to organize a charter trip to a snake infested swamp, I'd be among the first to sign up (assuming, of course, that there were at least double miles or Starwood status or something).  I'd be along for the fun and comradery though, not for the following things that the article says frequent flyers are looking for:

What Flyers Want:

Champagne toast after takeoff - WTH? Maybe in the 1950's that's what passengers wanted.  This one bugs me the most, as it really makes us seem like a bunch of entitled snobs.  Besides, can you really toast in plastic champagne glasses?

Free Beer and Wine - I wish I could argue this one with you, but I'm pretty sure I'd be in a very small minority from our flight who didn't consider this a perk.  There's a reason the Horizon Air beer plane is a popular route.

Sandwiches, preferably wraps, in a picnic bag for short flights - Ok, my problems with the picnic bag are previously documented, but I'm pretty sure that most of us are capable of getting through a couple hour flight without food.  Even though the wrap they gave us was good, sometimes I'd rather go hungry than have to listen to everybody around me (and myself) eating in a confined space.

Full meal on longer flights - I suppose if you're flying over 8 hours or so it would be nice to get something to eat.  I'm guessing though, that Mr. McCartney had the chicken on our flight, and not the "some kind of beef".

Ability to pay extra to keep the middle seat empty in coach - I think it's a neat idea, but here's a secret.  Most of us who aren't traveling on the company dime, are pretty cheap.  Considering our already high hopes for an upgrade, I'm not sure too many of us would shell out the extra money unless it was available as a last minute option.

In-flight raffle to raise money for pilot scholarships - I think this might not be in the right place, but really, there's never a bad time to mention the Jason Dahl Scholarship Fund.  Mr. Dahl was the captain of United Flight 93 on September 11th, and the charity in his name gives scholarships to young people trying to become pilots who have limited resources.  Does it belong on a list of things frequent flyers want?  Probably not, but how great would it be if it did?

Pillow fights (really) - Are you more surprised by the fact that we had a pillow fight or by the fact that there were enough pillows on board for everybody to have one?

I hope the airline and hotel executives got what they were hoping for from the chance to talk to our group, but most of the people I spoke with were just along for the experience (and the Hyatt diamond status, for those who didn't already have it).  While we do fly a lot, I'm pretty sure the desire for some extra space in a plane is shared by everybody, not just the frequent flyers.  I think for me, a little extra room, free wi-fi, and NFL Sunday Ticket would be enough to swing me to whichever airline offered it.  If we're going to "play airline", then I'm starting with that.

How bad is leg room getting on these flights anyways?