I just returned from some business travel and once again was struck by the lack of “User Experience” that is applied within the airline industry.

Boarding process. This is just barely managed chaos (except for Southwest Airlines, which may have it figured out). Just a jammed-up cattle call and a rush for overhead bin space. And the little three-foot strip of red carpet that is supposed to make you feel special? C’mon. Oh yeah, and what sense does it make to board First Class early, and then have a flight attendant jam up the aisle serving drinks while everyone else tries pass through to the rest of the seats? Just “plane” dumb.

Useless Instructions. Most everyone totally ignores the ubiquitous pleas to place smaller items under the seat in front of you. “We have a very full flight today, blah, blah, blah”. And, do we really still need instructions on how to operate a seat belt?

Gate Announcements. OK, so this is information critical to every flier. But nearly every PA system is unintelligible and the voices sound a lot like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

Drink Carts. Take forever. Smash elbows in aisle seats. Send ice shards all over and block access to restrooms. Brilliant.

Rental Car Counters. A completely archaic, broken process. They’ve got the return part pretty well nailed, but getting the keys? Kill me now. Oh, and let’s have a single agent working the counter during busiest times.

Airport Road and Terminal Signage. Apparently designed to confuse. Mission accomplished. Atlanta’s airport is the poster child for bad signage. Phoenix is a close second. I can’t imagine what people do who don’t have English as a first language.

In-Airport Restaurants. Service is almost universally slow and inattentive. Not to worry, nobody has anywhere to go or anything. You are just a captive audience at their mercy.

Outlets. Travelers are often seen wandering gate areas looking for the rare and usually hidden electrical outlet to recharge their devices. Look for people lying on the floor like crash survivors with a cord trailing from their bodies to said outlet. It’s a sad sight.

That’s it for my rant. The next presidential candidate should run on a platform to fix this stuff. He or she would win in a landslide.

Author Fred Driver

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