Somehow, the more comfortable we get sitting in coach, the less grateful we are to be there. We’ve all just become too jaded with the miracle of modern flight (and it is still a miracle). Back in the Mad Men days, just getting on a transcontinental flight was a sign of elegance and high class – for rich, martini drinking men in well-tailored suits and their beautiful trophy wives.
Frankly, coach passengers in the modern age are probably still better off than those first classers in the ‘60s. But the main issue is that any middle class ticket-holding chump has to make that right turn away from what appears to be a luxurious spa (everyone’s holding champagne, plus a hot towel for some reason) and sit in front of a baby with unusually strong lungs and next to an old woman hacking up her remaining lung. Well, that may never change – airlines are businesses, and they get you from Point A to Point B in a safe, crazily fast manner.
But, our desire to be spoiled as passengers has helped the flight experience improve immensely. Remember, it was only about 15 years ago when you had to either pony up five bucks for a crappy headset and watch the latest hack rom-com on a screen six rows ahead or stare at your empty seatback for the duration of the flight. Now, there are usually tons of movie choices for you on that seatback. So, maybe some more complaining can work to continue this rapid improvement, even if we probably deserve to be punched in the face by the Wright brothers for suggesting anything. Here are some suggestions:
The Ability to Lean Back to Achieve Real Comfort
We understand the need to sit in the upright position during takeoff, but once you're in the air, it's time to kick back and relax a little bit. Unfortunately, every coach passenger in history has clicked that round metal button, leaned back, and been painfully disappointed by how little difference it makes. It's one of the worst first world problems there is - no one has ever angled back that chair a few degrees and thought, 'oh man, that's just SO much better!' We realize there are people behind us, but they're sure to want to lean back as well, especially on long flights.
Make the Headsets Earbuds With Louder Volume
It all seems like white noise after about a half hour of being on a plane, but those things are actually really loud. And they should be - those whirring engines are tirelessly, desperately keeping you in the sky and the vents above you are circulating air to prevent suffocation and whatnot. It just makes it frustrating when you crank the volume up on the latest dramatic Ryan Gosling movie and realize there's no way you'll ever hear him muttering quiet, moody lines to his on-screen girlfriend. We'd rather not switch to watching loud Michael Bay movies on such painfully small screens. And we think it's about time they moved away from looking like a six-year-old from the '90s listening to his casette player. It's time to give us some earbuds, guys.
Free Premium Channels
Coach passengers' entertainment options have increased exponentially in recent years, with a wide selection of seatback movie and TV show choices becoming standard during long flights. Even so, premium channels are always extra, regardless of whether you have access to them at home or not. You're literally trapped in a chair for hours on end - when's a better time to catch up on Game of Thrones on HBO, or continue to follow Carrie Mathison's descent into sheer insanity on Homeland? It's the ultimate time to binge-watch.
Free Live Sports/News
Southwest recently became the first airline to implement this (in-air Sunday Night Football FTW!), and it's easily the best feature we've exprienced in a plane. It's probably unnecessary to ask for live access to every single channel (wouldn't hurt, though), but it'd be nice to watch a big game as it happens and have the ability to keep up with the news if you so desire.
Vintage Video Game Selection
This is something that needs to come back. At the dawn of seatback videos, it was common to have games like Super Mario Bros. as part of your in-flight entertainment, with the remote acting as a basic controller. All those 'shrooms and dinosaur rides literally made those long treks fly by (ugh, sorry). Regardless, in-flight games have generally regressed back to the basics, like solitaire and Sudoku. Airlines, it's time to bring back all those platform-style classics - our SNES broke years ago and we've gotten rusty.
Why, at this day and age, are planes still being built with middle seats? As in, seats that aren't window or aisle seats? One of the most harrowing, undignified experiences of your (admittedly cushy) life could be sitting between two fat guys in coach, being forced to stay awake for the duration of the flight once you realize there won't be anything acceptable to lean against until you reach your destination. Wouldn't an extra aisle be nice, to prevent this from ever happening again? Well, of course, that'd cut down on seats and raise ticket costs, but comfort might be worth the price.
What the hell's up with that airline food, huh? It's so bad, it's almost like they're more focused on safely hurtling you through the air at the fastest speed available to you. You call that chicken parm? That's not even Olive Garden quality! Seriously though, the food could be better. Frankly, that could probably be most easily accomplished by just hiking the fares by a few bucks - that's hardly noticeable when you're making such a big expense. Our vote is for Indian and Thai food.
Provide the Ability to Contact Your Next Flight
Catching a connecting flight might be the most stressful element of air travel, especially when you've got a short layover, your plane is running late and you don't know the main language in the country in which you're about to arrive. It'd be nice to be able to hash out these problems on the seatback screen or even just to give them a call, if need be - get in contact with the next airline (in your language) and figure out whether you'll be able to make your next flight, or start making other arrangements if that's not possible.
How many times were you super pumped to try to get some shut-eye in the nice little cozy nest that you make out of your window seat, only to thump the side of your head against some cold, hard plastic? It's like trying to cuddle with a manikin. Can't you just put a little bit of cushioning there for us to rest? There's probably a legit scientific reason they can't do this, but we can dream, can't we? Err, once we actually fall asleep we can.