Bringing humanity back to air travel

Sitting on a 5 hour flight from Sydney to Perth recently I was thinking about the importance of design in shaping the customer experience.

We were in economy class on a full flight. I had thought of treating Gwen and myself to business class but Qantas wanted $2,400 each, one-way for the privilege and that was too much for my Scottish upbringing.

Each time either of us got up to go to the loo we almost had to walk sideways to manoeuvre our way through the elbows, knees and feet sticking out into the aisles. My immediate thought was that this must be hell for the stewards and stewardesses who have to weave their way up and down numerous times throughout the flight. How dare Qantas and a multitude of other airlines treat their staff like that!

The next thought might have been about how inconsiderate some of the passengers are. Yet, it’s not about blaming the customer, it’s about designing the experience so that the aisles are wide enough for people to make their way comfortably through the plane.

It’s the same with the issue that frustrates passengers so much when the person in the row in front puts their chair back making it very difficult for the person in the row behind to use their tray table. The airlines have opted for cramming more passengers in rather than designing the space and the seats in such a way that the problem is minimised.

This is about being cost/profit driven rather than customer driven. I was reading recently about JetBlue in the USA whose tagline is ‘Bringing humanity back to air travel’. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more airlines took up that mantra?

What can we learn from this?

Have a look at the journey customers encounter when interacting with your organisation.

  • Are there touchpoints that negatively affect how customers feel when they are dealing with you?
  • If so, how can you cost effectively redesign the experience for the betterment of your customers, your internal customers (your employees) and the perception that both have about dealing with you.


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Jurek Leon is a storyteller, speaker and trainer. Subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly 'Terrific Tips' e-newsletter at Alternatively, email