November 29th, 2011 By Jack Morton
Holidays mean holiday travel, which means many more (expensive) reminders of how the whole airline experience is in need of a redesign. Based on my recent holiday flights on a US-based airline that will go unnnamed, here are some touchpoints I’d suggest could be improved:
- Data transparency:
Google can show me my backyard from a satellite, but airlines are strangely unwilling to provide real-time info about flights, seats and timing. When 2 out of 3 planes on this trip were delayed due to mechanical issues, I discovered that the airline’s mobile app looked cool but told me little.
- Random acts of green:
Given massive fuel consumption any airline that branded itself sustainable would quickly earn a rep for greenwashing, but that shouldn’t discourage a bold airline brand from fixing what they can: no more styrofoam cups bearing bad coffee, no more single-use plastic cups, maybe even some better-quality organic and fair-trade snacks and meals (I’d pay more for them).
- Human touch:
Based on our Best Experience Brands study, which includes consumer perspectives on the airline experience, people are positive about easy and efficient digitally-driven touchpoints (like online ticket buying and electronic kiosk check-in) and severely critical about customer service (whether by phone, in person or in flight) that doesn’t meet expectations.
People of a certain age can be positively nostalgic about how cool air travel used to be (the show Pan Am might feed that nostalgia). Even in the severely price-driven atmosphere of airlines, bringing a bit of style back would go a long way to improving the overall experience. As a colleague points out, a bit of humor would also be great—like entertainment as I wait at baggage claim, or a unique take on the safety briefing at takeoff.