Here’s an idea for the airlines… offer us more for our money…
(and we’re likely to pay)


Recently we began making some plans for our next trip, and the questions began…

What sacrifices are we willing to make to get a non-stop flight?

What do we need from our car rental?

Are there any major purchases or expenses that we can expect?

I’m generalizing in a way, but you get the idea. With a group of six adults traveling, and different levels of interest for the subjects that range inside that group from fishing to theme parks, a few ideas should be explored ahead of time. Not quite ground rules… not quite set in stone plans… but have you seen the cost of theme park tickets these days? Knowing whether or not you plan on spending a day or two or three visiting the Mouse or Harry Potter can save some money.

And then those flights.

A non-stop flight can be the difference between leaving around 7am and arriving that same morning, or, spending a few hours at a stop along the way in a city you never see creating a morning departure and final arrival early that evening. But are you willing to drive to a different airport to avoid spending 14-hours to fly for 3? How about arriving in a different airport? Is it worth waking up at 3am to get to the airport? Are those ideas even options?

And throughout all of these ideas… and many more… is a key theme that I credit one of my dear friends for living and exemplifying so well. See, he’s quite willing to spend more in order to get what he wants. He knows exactly what he wants… knows what he expects… and expects what he pays for. And while he’ll cough up extra dollars, if he’s paying more for something then he fully intends to see it delivered.

I firmly believe that one of the greatest headaches when it comes to traveling are the hidden costs. We can gripe all we want to about how well they may or may not be advertised, but the truth is all of us are mad about similar things. The costs of luggage… the inconveniences of getting food and beverages in the terminal and on the plane… the person sitting one row in front of you that reclines the seat so it’s positioned two rows behind you… the advertised price when you do the research, only to find taxes and other fees listed in smaller fonts.

And ultimately what I believe is that most of us have memories of receiving so much more when traveling by plane.


This is when it began for me. The family was headed to Disney World. It was the first time any of us kids had been on a plane.

I believe we had a connection in Atlanta. I know we didn’t fly directly to Orlando. One moment I do remember was being served breakfast.


On a plane.

Talked about a cherry topping the whipped cream of the sundae. I was going to Disney World! I was going to fly on a plane!

I can still see the images from that day… sitting there, staring out the window at the sights below, and then a woman shows up with a tray.

Disney. Plane. And…

Pancakes. Delicious pancakes.

Today as I recall those memories, I have to admit I’m stunned that I was able to keep breathing and didn’t just pass out and fall over. And, it sure is possible they weren’t delicious pancakes. Still, can you imagine how I felt on that flight when I was also presented with a deck of playing cards and a set of plastic wings?

Sadly those days are long gone.

Now you have to pack your bags without a bottle of water so you can buy a bottle of water on the other side of the security checkpoints.

Maybe that joke isn’t fair. In fact, it probably isn’t. After all, airline security is important, and it’s one of the sacrifices involved in traveling. Mind you, I’m not saying the screening is perfect or that I agree with all of it. What I am saying is that I do understand why I’m putting my backpack on a conveyor belt.

That said, the point remains. Go ask your flight attendant for a free set of playing cards. Let me know how you do.

And that brings me to the purpose of this little essay. Because after considering travel in recent years… especially for this upcoming trip… I’ve decided that there are some opportunities being left to the side by the airlines.

I’m here today to offer the airlines a golden marketing campaign.

Before outlining the plan… let’s get some things out there. An understanding of sorts, between us.

The defining element of this plan is simple. I know what I want and I know what I expect. The key to this succeeding is delivering on your promises. If you hold up on your end of the agreement, then I’ll pay the bill. If you don’t, I will generate headaches.

I’m not planning on buying an airline or consulting for one. So… enjoy. These ideas may not be perfect, but I offer them to you for free folks. Use them as you will. And, when you are making so much money that you can’t count it any more, maybe you send me a some plastic wings.

Here we go…

What an airline needs to do is charge more than their competitors. 15% to 30% more. A $200 ticket on the competitors… charge $240-$250. A $600 ticket some place else… $690-$750.

In return for those premium charges, get out there and remove all the crap.

Any flight over two hours comes with a free meal. (Not half a soda, or chance to buy a meal, or apology for the lack of peanuts because of the allergies of the kid 27 rows behind me.

No fees for luggage or carry-on bags.

Remove a row of seats or two from every plane, and then add two to three inches of leg room.

Lock the darn recline option on every seat so it won’t move more than an inch or two. (This one is a personal favorite, because reclining seats reward only the inconsiderate and obnoxious while punishing the quiet and respectable.)

Have gift bags for kids, with pilot wings and playing cards. (I get giddy with this one. Think of the marketing opportunities. An airline representative calls Disney, Universal, or any other Orlando attraction and says the following: “We’re thinking of developing a child gift bag for our flights. Any child that appears to be about 10-years old or under gets one, but we won’t really check ages too hard. Make the flying experience a bit more fun. Trouble is, these things will cost us a few dollars to package. We were wondering if you would be interested in maybe doing some advertising. You give us a few dollars to produce them, and on every flight to Orlando… Los Angeles… fill in the blank as appropriate city… the bag will include material exclusive to your theme park or attraction. Our airline logo playing cards with Mickey on them. Our airline pilot wings with a Harry Potter broom in the design. And every one of those bags delivers some special offer for the family that opens it, inviting them to join you during their vacation.” Modify the sales pitch here, but you get the point. If I remember pancakes and playing cards and pilot wings, you can bet that another kid will remember their gift bag. You’re setting up potential brand loyalty for your airline with kids. And remember… charging extra money for the benefits that come with flying on your planes. Let’s move on…)

Don’t overbook.

Have gift cards that can be given out for any and all problems immediately. Someone bitches and needs to have their seating switched… have a $25 gift card ready to reward the guy in the window seat that volunteers to move to accommodate the jerk that was whining. Luggage got lost… maybe a $25 gift card to a retail shop in that city.

And then wind up the marketing campaign.

Sure… you charge more. People won’t find your flights on Orbitz or Expedia or Hot Wire or Priceline. Those sites are fine and dandy you say. But you offer more.

And if your staff connects and gets the system perfected… you’ll be charging more, with more passengers, and getting less complaints. Everyone wins.

Imagine a world where you got what you paid for instead of tolerated what you paid for.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at