Glad I'm not a millionaire (or, innovation in the airline industry)

Jul 15, 2013

07/15/2013: Please be aware that this is an old draft article I had sitting in my system which is basically a joke dressed up as semi-serious business ideas. Do NOT try this at home.

Originally written July 20th, 2011

Every time I am flying on a plane, which happens quite a bit, I get these crazy idea’s for how to innovate in the airspace. Some colleagues who have had to listen to me during flights will happily agree these are crazy. Even though, we might see some of these idea’s come into play at some point in the future, so I thought I would write them up.

Most of these idea’s are probably not going to be successful, I will admit. Which is why I am very happy I am not a millionaire who could try to find out.

(Non-) baby flights

Ever flown long haul flights? Say, Europe to New Zealand? Did you notice the cute couple with the 2 month old baby? When they board it is like watching a cluster bomb exploding in the cabin: everyone around the couple stands up looking for the nearest stewardess to see if they can change their seats away from the 2 month old.

What if an airline would make two changes at the same time? Designate particular flights as “baby free”. This way, folks that appreciate the quiet around them might be willing to pay a little bit more to get on.

On the other hand, the airline could designate other flights as “baby friendly”. These could sport multiple seats turned into cribs, a lavatory changed into a small playroom. It might even include one of those nannies that keeps kids busy! Again, wouldn’t surprise me if parents were willing to pay more for this on a 12 hour long flight!

No security for convenience

If you look at people and see how they deal with risk, it is very peculiar. Take for example texting on your mobile phone while driving. Lot’s of people do it. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit if more people died due to car accidents while talking/texting/facebooking on the phone, adjusting their TomTom GPS, etc.

Over the last decade the airline industry, rightfully so, has become completely security scared. Now while that is completely understandable and probably called for, it does not necessarily have to be this way. Imagine the following airline:

Would these above changes be an attraction to enough people to make it worthwhile? Maybe…

In short, the question becomes: if people are willing to sacrifice “security” at every step of their lives, what would be possible in the airline industry if we would backtrack on some of the “security measures” we have been implementing in the last decade?

Stunt flights

Ever sat in a plane when it needed to bank heavily, like the approach pictured below to London?

Flight approach to London, you'd think the pilot turned 50 yrs that day

At that point in time I was thinking how awesome it would be if the plane would call off a 30 minute time span where drinks are not available after which he would proceed making a roll, figure eight or an Immelmann? I mean a full on 30 minute acrobatics session: that would be totally awesome for the pilot to do, and if known in advance could attract a whole slew of customers at higher prices. I would, once in a while, take such a flight with colleagues: it would break the monotonicity of business travel, in a segment that is rather price insensitive.

Conclusion

There are still a lot of unexplored idea’s in the airline industry. I am not claiming that any of the above would be successful, but I sure would love to see more experimentation. Let me know in the comments or via email if there are other idea’s you would love to see implemented.