Every year brings good things, bad things, funny things, and silly things in aviation. This year was no different.
Here’s a list of our favorite Best Bad Ideas in Air Travel for 2014:
Spirit Airlines Social Media Bot
Taking the social out of social media one tweet at a time. We haven’t figured out how (when) the yellow tin-man works, but we hope he’ll find a heart.
— Spirit Airlines (@SpiritAirlines) December 8, 2014
The high-concepttweet bot responds to negative Twitter chatter by promoting cheap fares or explaining why less legroom is actually a good thing. We’d much rather read life-affirming tweets from an airplane.
Airbus Stand Up ‘Seating’ Concept
We give Airbus credit for thinking outside the thin metal tube this year, but some ideas were just too painful to contemplate. We hope Airbus was kidding. Though, no doubt, some cabins will get more crowded in 2015 and beyond.
If we’re going to be packed in planes like sardines in the future, we’ll pick Zodiac Aerospace’s HD31 flip-up nested seat concept, which was presented at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. At least, it’s stylish and the clever method of nesting leaves a little extra room for us at the sides with reasonable leg room.
Picking out a new set of luggage is a treat, but this crowdfunding project caught our eye as a great bad idea. We love the tech thinking behind it, but the power has us worried. Smart luggage would be very useful, and being able to keep devices charged is also nifty, but putting a Lithium-Ion Battery in the suitcase is a no-go, if you ever have to check it. Also, claiming the bag “TSA Accepted (Travel Sentry Approved)” is deceptive advertising. That doesn’t fly with us.
We do like that the aircraft manufacturers are working hard to bring us more overhead bin space, so we might not need to worry about checking-in our fancy gadget bags of tomorrow.
We’re not picking on the ostrich. We’ve seen plenty of travel gadgets that make us laugh, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We can always use a good giggle. But we don’t fancy looking like a Teletubby when we travel.
We’d rather see more airlines re-think their headrests, like Etihad’s super-comfy Economy headrest with privacy lean-to flaps.
The Windowless Plane
This is the best public relations campaign for an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) project we’ve seen — ever.
We like our planes with nice safe windows, please, so we can detect any fires outside the fuselage if we ever need to. Sure, removing windows saves weight on cargo planes, but we’re not actually cargo. There are many technical reasons a fully enclosed flying cylinder won’t fly, but the two main ones start with A (Airbus) and B (Boeing).
Even so, the UK technology innovation center behind this cabin stuff of nightmares for the claustrophobe is absolutely right: flexible, light-weight, brilliant OLED lighting is the future. It holds great promise for many cabin applications. But we expect now-popular LED lighting will be the norm on planes. At least until OLED prices drop dramatically. Kudos to the PR team, though, they deserve a glowing end-of-year bonus!
For future-vision, we much prefer Airbus’ own open airy plane of tomorrow.
With windows that project AND let you see out; it’s a winner.
TSA Fees Raised for Passengers, Eliminated for Airlines
The TSA is important and keeps people from bringing all kinds of dangerous items on board, but raising the fees to passengers in the same year the security infrastructure fees are eliminated for airlines doesn’t seem fair. Heck, even the airlines thought raising TSA passenger fees was a bad idea.
Still, we are glad to see some improvements overall at the TSA, and hope that its funding gets put to good use advancing NextGEN initiatives.
The Nuisance Passenger
It’s not just annoying — it poses a safety risk to everyone onboard. It’s also annoying. Passengers claiming to have Ebola, or drinking and misbehaving until they reroute a flight, or fighting over a spilt drink are plane fools.
At least none of these nuisance passengers went nuts over macadamias, tossing critical flight safety crew out of the aircraft. And at least those other nuisance passengers were Executive VPs of the airline, Heads of Inflight Service and Catering, or daughters of the CEO.
— Kate Schneider (@SchneiderK) December 8, 2014
Macadamia-gate was an ironic take on the Airline’s tag line: “It’s all about you.”
Yeah. Not always: Some times it is just about them and their spoiled execs.
We do like that this inappropriate behaviour led to a management change. Korean Air is a great airline, after all.