What if _______ ran the world?

Nextel launched a new ad campaign during the 2009 Superbowl whereby the audience is asked to consider what the world would be like if members of certain trades (e.g. Firemen, Roadies, Film Crews, Delivery Men) were in charge of our world.  I’m sure you’ve all seen the commercials.  They are stark reminders that we have a tendency to over-engineer so much of what we do in this world.  As a frequent flyer, the most compelling to me is the Roadies in charge of getting a passenger airline out of the gate and in the air.  Their no-nonsense approach, while not necessarily the most comforting from a safety perspective, is refreshing to anyone who has had to sit through the excruciating experience of loading an unloading an aircraft.  Aren’t we, as consumers, past the experiential aspects of flying?  Unless I’m sitting in business class on a trans-oceanic flight, I don’t need nor do I want all the pomp and circumstance.  Just get this bird buttoned up and on its way!  I don’t even mind security anymore – it’s just everything else.  Even Southwest, the god father of no-nonsense flying, has succumbed to over-complication.  Have you experienced the boarding process lately on Southwest?  It’s hard enough to figure out where the hell you’re supposed to be standing in line before you even get on the plane.  If I were in charge of air travel in the US:

  1. One carry-on no larger than a computer bag would be allowed; all other bags must be checked.
  2. Food and beverages would be sold at the gate prior to boarding; the whole drink cart thing is so dated.
  3. Every seat would have an entertainment center in it; for the annual cost of one flight attendant per flight, I bet the airlines could afford to do this.  Give me some headphones, a movie or TV show, some music, etc. and I’m good for at least a couple of hours.
  4. Each and every jetway should link up to the front and back of every jet so that passengers could load and unload from both ends.  Seriously, waiting in a cramped aisle while Aunt Mable struggles with getting that army issue duffel bag is just too freakin’ much. 
  5. I’d offer discounts of 1% for every 10 minutes passengers had to sit on an airplane away from the gate and on the runway.  An implicit part of any contract with an airline (i.e. ticket) is that not only will you get me there, but you’ll do so in one piece and on time. 

And there is so much more.  This is one I hope we’ll get some comments on – something tells me we’d all be better off if someone else was in charge of the airlines…