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(Flight attendant makes announcement) We know you had many equally unappealing options for your travel today. We're glad you settled for us.

Flight attendants, cross-check doors and body-check passengers for departure.

Flight attendants, cross-check doors and body-check passengers for departure. published on

The last week or two has brought a flood of news about godawful air passenger experiences — various overbooking fiascos, a United passenger beaten senseless, and whatever the hell this is. It ought to be making the airline industry think hard about customer experience.

I’d love to see an airline make a declaration that they’ll never overbook again, that there’s some minimum level of passenger comfort they won’t try to pare away, and that the days of treating their customers as whiny freight are over. That they’re going to compete on the brand-new terrain of respecting their passengers.

Don’t hold your breath, though. (Not that the recirculated air is that fresh to begin with.) Maybe the last several days are gamechangers for the industry, but I think it’s more likely that airline head offices are planning on riding out the turbulence on their current altitude and heading. After all, a few decades of incremental passenger abuse have made airlines one of the more profitable industries out there — especially in North America.

Then again, maybe it would just take one airline to break from the pack…

MacBook (Not) Air

MacBook (Not) Air published on 2 Comments on MacBook (Not) Air

Originally published on ReadWriteWeb

Fly any airline and you’ll see two parallel rituals being conducted just before takeoff: flight attendants politely reminding passengers to switch off everything remotely entertaining for their own safety, and a subset of the passengers covertly eking out every last second of keyboarding they can before they get caught.

For some of those passengers, the lack of compliance stems from an innate need to defy any authority; for others, a neurotic fear of even a nanosecond of unavoidable disconnection. And for still others, it comes from deep-seated skepticism that 21st-century airline avionics are really all that vulnerable to a few stray processor cycles and rogue oscillations.

I could easily see myself with a foot in each of those camps. (I’d need to graft on a whole new foot to achieve that, but work with me on this.) And yet…

See, here’s the thing. I know (roughly) the physics that keeps a multi-ton steel behemoth aloft. I know the huge amounts invested in the care and maintenance of its systems. I’ve flown countless times.

Yet to some prehistoric part of my brain, it still seems like a complete freaking miracle to me that those wheels actually do leave the tarmac for any significant length of time. And to keep that miracle happening long enough to get us to a safe cruising altitude, my inner awestruck Neanderthal is happy to switch off whatever gizmo it takes: iPad, Kindle, pacemaker… just name it.

But that’s me. When it comes to switching off before taking off, where do you land?