Good thing he wasn’t wearing a clown suit; he’d be deported by now.
It looks like a classic case of Adultitis, and I consider myself lucky that it wasn’t me. You see, my standard travel garb is almost always a pair of Adidas track pants and a Mr. Incredible t-shirt (for good luck.) I’ve been upgraded to first class on a number of occasions, clearly not realizing how fortunate I was.
I wonder what other stipulations the agent puts on first class flyers. Is everyone required to tap away incessantly on their laptops, taking breaks only to talk about how bad the economy is or sigh loudly when it’s announced that the flight will be delayed? Laughing must surely be outlawed, but what’s the punishment for a smile? An extra helping of airline food?
In a follow-up story, United Airlines was quick to point out that the gate agent is a contract employee who works for Air Wisconsin. They also said they’re investigating the incident. According to the airline, although there is no dress code, there are two rules: Ticketed passengers can not be barefoot and must be clothed.
[Side note: I can't help but wonder about the origin of these rules. Have they actually had naked people try to board a flight? Or did they create the rule preemptively, thinking, "We'd better figure out a way to keep all those naked people I see walking through the airport from coming on OUR planes!"]
Whether or not this incident reflects United’s corporate culture or it was simply a rogue agent acting alone, the fact remains that every airline I’ve encountered is bursting with high levels of Adultitis. It seems like Southwest Airlines keeps things fun, but I can’t speak from experience because they don’t service Madison. The only Adultitis antidote I’ve discovered for air travel is the technique of bringing a baby with you. Smiles and good service are guaranteed.
I realize that air travel is a stressful industry across the board. But I can’t help but think how easy it would be to make noticeable changes. For instance, don’t just tell us our flight is delayed. Explain why. Err on the side of giving us too much information, and don’t treat us like your slaves. Let us keep our shoes on in the security lines. Smile more (or at the very least, pretend like you give a damn).
For the overachieving airlines (if there are any), here are a few ways to take things to the next level and create raving fans:
- Instead of peanuts, serve Cracker Jacks (with a prize inside.)
- Hire more comedians to serve as flight attendants, or require your current people to take improv classes.
- Paint cool murals on the planes, a la the Cow Parade that’s been held in Chicago and other cities.
- Draw random seat numbers for door prizes, which might be 500 extra bonus miles, a free drink, or a gift certificate to an airport restaurant.
What about you? What are some ways you think the airlines could make flying more fun? Share your ideas in the comments.
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