the Flying Experience
Let's say you are from another planet – like maybe Mars – and your Leader sends you on a journey "far, far away" to investigate how humanoids travel around this chuck of rock called Earth. After a few light years cooped up in a tiny capsule, you touchdown just outside the terminal at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport.
You begin your research by strolling past a young couple laughing hysterically as they watch videos on a strange electronic gizmo that spans their lap. Intrigued, you draw on your new English speaking skills to start up a conversation and ask what is so funny. The couple stops ROFL long enough to tell you this:
They're watching Delta Airline's new series of "Passenger Etiquette Training Videos" called Planeguage. The videos are meant to train Earthlings on how to fly in an airliner, and explain what can be expected if you've never flown on Delta Airlines before.The Martian sits down next to the couple and begins watching with them...and here is what they see:
Lavdance (view here) – A line of pax are waiting in the aisle, ready to piss their pants – even though the airlines discourages hovering vertically near the lav door in this post-9/11 world. A rude woman emerges from the Loo and pushes/shoves her way through the pissy customers back to her seat.The Little Green Man stares at the laptop gizmo with disbelief before calmly asking "who the HELL would want to travel like that...are you Earthlings insane?" He then gets back in his tiny capsule and launches for home, radioing his Leader to tell him they can scratch this rock called "Earth" off their list of planets with intelligent life.
Kidtastrophe (view here) – A businessman rides in coach, and spills his coffee on a fresh white shirt because some puke eight-year-old behind him thinks the guy's seatback is a soccer ball. Two more cherubs stand on their seats in the next row forwards, staring at him for hours. And just for effect, a toddler lounges on a mother's lap in the seat next to his, screaming bloody murder for his/her $#@%!& binky.
Shady Lady (view here) – A pressurized tube full of pax are engulfed in some low rent "B" movie in a darkened cabin. Just as the flick hits its climax, a dumbass woman in the window seat starts yanking her window shade up and down several times, letting annoying daylight in to blind the flyers around her. And just when an aisle seat kid wants to look out the window, dumbass window seat lady yanks the shade closed.
Middleman (view here) – Two nice young children ride in the aisle and window seat of what appears to be a 737, with three abreast seating on each side of the aisle. A rude and crude man sits down in between them and the three proceed to jostle for the armrests. After a little give and take, the mean adult wins by forcefully shoving the kid's innocent little arms off the rests so he can use a "wide stance" to read his paper.
Miracle in the 34th Row (view here) – This cute little holiday piece opens with Christmas travelers packing away their carry-ons and packages in the overheads. A happy couple sits in three across seating, holding hands across the empty middle seat. A late-to-the-gate moron squeezes into the pressurized tube just as the door is closing, and heads towards the happy couple's row, which happens to be row 34. But the moron finds his seat in row 35, and the happy couple does not have to stop holding hands. Awwwwwwww...
From my vantage point as an advertising professional, these Planeguage videos are an interesting exercise in how the delicate psychology of public relations can sometimes backfire. Viewed one after the other, they show an absolutely horrible travel environment, so the Martian has a point in asking why we, the people, would actually PAY to get around like that.
But Delta is not satisfied with these few Planeguage videos, so they are soliciting our ideas for more:
We love hearing from you and welcome your ideas for the next series of Planeguage videos. Please go ahead and post yours here in our blog. We plan on refreshing our programming on a regular basis and we already have some amazing ideas from you that are being incorporated into future Planeguage shorts, so thanks for posting!So in the interest of helping Delta explain the whole flying experience these days, here are a few ideas of my own for more Planeguage videos:
Stranded – A planeload of passengers are stuffed inside a hot, stinky tube that has been parked for hours on the tarmac. The lav is overflowing down the center aisle, diabetic passengers are screaming for their insulin, and babies without fresh diapers reak. The Captain comes into the cabin to calm the unruly pax and is mobbed and beaten to within inches of his life.You get the idea..I could go on and on and on. See, in my career, the last thing you want to do is produce videos for the public showing just how awful your product really is. I totally get their intention here - try to teach the cattle back in coach to behave like the one-percenters up in first-class. But from the last few airline trips I took, it was crystal clear that a handful of cute animated videos would have had zero effect on the declining experience that flying via Big Airline legacy carrier have become.
Oversold – A gate waiting area is packed with travelers awaiting their cattle call to board. The perky gate agent comes on the horn and tells them in the cheeriest of voices that the Old Wise Men in their airline's Board Room has allowed the Reservation Center to oversell the flight by 10 seats. The waiting passengers, all having paid actual MONEY for their seat, begin a run for the jetway. In a moment, it is chaos as they all try to squeeze out the gate door. Poor old ladies are trampled, and defenseless young children fall to the carpet as a wave of humanity crushes them in a race to fight for a seat.
"Food" or something like it – A businessman has bought a very expensive last-minute coach seat. The Flight Attendant comes along and hands him a tiny cup of luke warm soda pop, and a bag of stale pretzels. The guy flips out, demanding something more then snack food...shouting he deserves at least FRESH pretzels for his $1,440 fare. Soon the plane erupts with mayhem, people start throwing their stale pretzels in rebellion, and the pretzels – now hard, sharp flying objects – actually cause injury to the poor FA who was just doing her dime-an-hour job.
It is NOT rocket science to create an airline where passengers are happy and served well. If you need an example, look no further then here.