Much to my delight, at least one airline in the world has come to their senses and is now offering child-free zones, something I have been setting my intentions on the New Moon and Full Moon for, for like, ever. Unfortunately, that airline is Malaysia Airlines*, which I'm not even sure is real. It may be some time before my weekly flights on American or its partners are no longer dotted with ear-splitting whines. Regardless, I take this recent development as a glimmer of hope signifying meaningful evolution for airline travel. Moreover, if it's possible to establish child-free zones, then maybe the sky (ha!) really is the limit! Today, shackled into 21F for almost five hours on the way to EWR, I came up with a couple of more offerings using a simple stick-or-carrot model. I have also outlined viable implementation plans, which, along with the models, might just be the ticket (ahem) to revitalizing the entire airline industry.
1. Gas-free zones
Although I would be the first to fork over cash to never have to bury my head in my shirt because the guy sitting in 22F eats too much dairy, this genius idea requires no increase in ticket prices. Between the stick and the carrot, this one's the stick.
Remember when you were a little kid and adults or at least older kids would say that if you peed in the pool your pee would turn green or something and everyone would know? It could be like that but on planes. The flight attendant call button could be MacGyvered to activate upon the detection of sulfuric elements. Everyone would instinctively turn around to get a good hard look at the person who couldn't just get up, for crissakes, and go to the bathroom. But shame is a lonely motivator. The offending party would then be charged a $1500 infringement fee upon deplaning, payable to the airline (administrative fees) and to the passengers of the three rows surrounding him/her.
2. No talking flights
I have nearly perfected the in-flight Heisman of chitchatting by immediately donning an eyemask, and yet, for at least forty minutes on every flight while electronics are embargoed, I am held captive while those around me drone on as if rows in airplanes were somehow magical, invisible soundproof chambers. They are not.
I would gladly pay a premium to travel in the equivalent of a flying library. Because I am egalitarian, I believe that every person, regardless of income, should have access to no-talking flights. To support this, the fee could be a sliding scale model or even a work-for-service model where those who can't afford the extra cost could simply help to refuel the plane or hand out peanuts.
I have other business ideas, mostly addressing those people who use the bathroom and don't wash their hands, for example, but this seems like a good place start. Baby steps.
*UPDATE: This article was written about two years before the infamous plane disappearance which catapulted Malaysia Airlines onto the international stage. Life is weird.