As a frequent business traveler, I was excited to see that United Airlines has devised a way to fix what is one of my – and most other business travelers’ – biggest pet peeves.
No, it’s not sitting next to that guy wearing open-toed sandals. Or the person next to me who brought onboard a large rotisserie chicken with gravy for lunch, or the loud person conducting a business meeting on her cellphone until being asked – for the third time – to put it away by the flight attendant. It’s the boarding process. It’s awful.
Boarding a plane is a game of thrones where the throne isn’t your seat, but the limited baggage space above it. It is stressful, annoying, too time-consuming and borders on violent. Now United Airlines says it can change that.
According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, the airline claims that – after numerous studies – Wilma is the way. The Wilma method – window, middle, aisles – sits passengers in a way that supposedly shaves time off boarding by keeping the aisle free. Any frequent business traveler will tell you that this is nonsense.
For starters, priority customers who prefer to sit in the aisle will yell. People with disabilities need to be boarded earlier, as do the military (thank you for your service) and unaccompanied children. There will be so many exceptions to this methodology as to render Wilma meaningless.
Sadly the truth is the entire industry isn’t looking for big changes. They’re just trying to shave a few minutes off of each flight with the hopes that the final result will allow accumulated time savings by the end of the travel day and a more profitable company.
And that’s the problem. It’s a Band-Aid. A short-term solution that’s destined to fail. But it’s even more than that: it’s a clear indication of America’s innovative decline where risk is avoided at all costs. Where are the big thinkers? Unfortunately, they’re definitely not employed in the airline industry.
Several ways to buy cheap airline tickets.
- Start searching at least 2 months in advance and sign up for email alerts so you'll always be notified when flight prices drop.
- Budget airlines typically offer the cheapest flights.
- Save money by taking your flight early in the morning or late at night.
- Consider flying on a weekday instead of a weekend.
- Use an aggregator site to compare prices across airlines.
- Once you have found the best trip, select it on the aggregator site and move to the airline’s direct website to book your tickets. Some aggregators allow you to book the ticket through their website, but there may be an additional service fee.