If a genie in a bottle granted you three wishes that could only be applied to your airline experience, what would they be?
Funny you should ask. Teague, a Seattle design firm that has designed the interiors of all Boeing’s planes since 1946, took a swing at that question and came up with some innovative suggestions. They may not be your top three, but with time you might come around to see the merits of their questioning of the industry’s status quo.
Would you ever consider checking all your luggage, even if it was only a carry-on, if it would be free to do so? What if you would be charged for your carry-on? According to Teague’s own blog post, the airlines are drunk on baggage fees. They’re a boon to the business, but perceived as a fine to the traveler. So, if you eliminate carry-ons (other than a briefcase or purse) and only allow checked bags, what benefit would that be for the consumer?
With the savings in weight, as well as the elimination of built-in overhead bins, the fuel savings could be as much as $25 million, which could be passed on to travelers through lower ticket prices.
Virgin Airlines has discussed charging for carry-on bags, but has yet to implement it. It’s all about money and perception. But wouldn’t you be willing to consider such an airline if the time it took to board was 71 percent more efficient?
The second suggestion Teague made was rethinking the much-maligned middle seat. What if, instead of it being the “last option,” it could be something that airlines used to market perks to customers who chose those seats?
Imagine cool in-flight options, exclusive experiences, and after-flight takeaways that were desirable, even perhaps coveted? This “promotional class,” as Teague termed it, would afford vendors the opportunity to market a very unique, personal offering and help the airline elevate its least desirable seats to most desirable.
Finally, what if airlines had membership programs like Amazon Prime? For a fee, travelers become members and have access to pre-paid flights and other amenities. You might say this already exists in the mileage reward programs, but it’s not always the frequent traveler who benefits. This could significantly increase competition between airlines if it could garner the same loyalty that Amazon and Starbucks has created for their own loyalty programs.
These changes aren’t likely to happen anytime soon, if at all. The airline industry is in need of some serious innovation, and if some airline was to implement one or all of these, we could see the entire game changed. Forever.
What design changes would you like to see inside an airplane? Give us your best suggestions. Leave us a comment below, or on our Facebook page
Photo credit: Teague Design (Use With Permission)