We live in an amazing time, people. The time when we, the consumers, hold all the power and influence of choice.
We see it everywhere: free WiFi at coffee cafés, cheap rides from strangers on Uber, cheap hotels and night-shacks on Airbnb, cheap domestic car rentals on RelayRides, low-cost meals in restaurant menus and so the list goes on.
So, how is that in this day and age, airlines are the main remaining source of discomfort we all just have to put up with? When it comes to progress, the human race has made some profound advances on many challenging fronts.
Here are eight reasons why air travel still leaves room for improvement:
Because we can do better for ourselves
Fifty years ago, you'd dress in your best suit for your Pan Am flight, and were treated like royalty from baggage check to baggage pick-up.
But something happened along the way, with the end result being that flying, for many of us, simply lost its glamour and was replaced by a sense of hastened cattle ranching.
Flying commercial has become this universal suck-fest of sufferance we all endure, and later on share our grievances about in small numbers.
But why? What's holding us back from creating something better? If your cellular provider were to suddenly jack up your usage rates during "peak usage hours," don't you think you'd start using that data plan to research other carriers?
Well, we do, don't we? Because we can. We have options, and we know how to use them.
Hell, half of the time they come to us, halfway between the mall food court and their booth, a carrier rep is there to tell you how they can do it better, faster and cheaper than the other brand.
Because we consumers need to own our ability to demand more
Options make the heart grow fonder. Cellular services aren't the only area where this is true.
Think of your Internet streaming account, your car insurance provider, your gym membership, lawn care service, car payment financier or even your medicare provider.
You have options (and cheap ones, too) in every direction you turn. Companies work for you, compete for your business and win you over by offering the best experience at competitive prices.
Because we live in a knowledgable economy
Built by those before us and those around us, and enjoyed by everyone we share it with, we now have the power to make rudimentary and necessary tasks that were once exclusive and expensive, suddenly inclusive and financially available to everyone.
We can buy something, slap our social "like" stamp of approval on it, share it or even bash it if we hate it, all at our own discretion.
Gestures that can be either progressive or detrimental to a brand or product are now at our fingertips.
Because knowledge is power for the consumer
Right now, in the palm of your hands, lies more technological ability than it took to send the first astronauts into space, and we know how to utilize it.
We can cross-check credit card rates, compare medicare plans, look up discounts on food goods, find the nearest restaurant with the cheapest happy hour cocktail prices, buy tickets to Broadway's 'The Lion King" and do it all on our own, before we've taken up our entire lunch break.
That's the power of knowledge. And that's what puts us in the position to bargain for a better experience, at a better price, no matter what we are shopping for.
Because there's a serious disconnect
My local airport is the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which is the number one "hub" and busiest airport worldwide.
Regardless of which airline you fly or where you go domestically, nine out of 10 domestic flights offered in the US are only offered by the "Big 4 Cloud Kings." This includes US Airways: United, Delta, American and Southwest Airlines.
No matter where you're headed, you'll pay their rates; you'll fly on their time, and you'll follow their rules. Where's the disconnect?
How is it we have so many choices in everything we do, but when it comes to a necessity like transcontinental and international air travel, which 44 percent of the entire world's population relies on, we suddenly just take what we can get?
Because we aren't being disruptive enough for our own good
This is exactly what we are supposed to use our consumer power, social leverage and knowledge for. Remember the pep-talk earlier, where we all agreed it's a consumer-powered economy?
For the first time ever, we get to set the bar of expectations and service providers should, instead, recognize and develop those wants into services. As seen through other mediums, we now have the power to make this happen.
Because we've read this book before
Does this remind anyone of the early days of Cingular, T-Mobile, Nextel and Verizon?
There were limited choices, sky-rocket prices, dropped calls, pay-per-text fees, subpar services, all in the name of necessity.
The knowledge-empowered consumer base brought these giants to their knees by creating competition and encouraging market disruptions. We went from brands boasting "fewest dropped calls" to a rapid evolution into unlimited data, talk and text, by challenging market mediocrity.
The niche air travel market has remained relatively unscathed for over half of the last century, and it's time we took a chapter from our own history books to rewrite a wrong.
Because it's our responsibility not to put it on the shoulders of tomorrow
Our scientists just discovered how to turn sugarcane into aviation fuel to decrease travel expense and emissions for flights; Qantas Airlines, Emirates Airlines and others are quickly starting bids for international travel dominance to beat out the "Big 4 Cloud Kings."
If we want change, it has to start with current-day innovations.
Otherwise, we'll keep seeing increases in the number of connecting flights and layovers, surges in ticket prices during peak travel dates, added fees for checked luggage, an increase in the number of passengers-per-plane on flights, flight over-bookings and an onslaught of continued discontent and dissatisfaction with the air travel experience.
We're not in the Stone Age any longer. Let's take one small step in the direction of progress.