Random travel thoughts

by Abhishek

via Seth's Blog by Seth Godin on 9/27/08


Have you ever noticed that we don’t have a word for the opposite of faceless (as in faceless bureaucracy)? Faceful? Perhaps that’s because bureaucracies, by their nature, refuse to answer to us when something is broken.

Why does a banana cost twenty cents at the supermarket and  $1.61 at SFO? Are hungry people supposed to subsidize non-hungry travelers?

When I go through security, why do I need to remove a cardigan sweater but the woman standing next to me can keep her cashmere blouse on? Are certain kinds of wool inherently risky?

What would happen if Imagineers from Disney designed the security line? Why not let them try?

Why doesn’t the airport have sleeping benches? Worse, far worse, why isn’t there someone you can ask that question to?

After inspecting more than twenty million pairs of shoes, have the screeners found even one dangerous pair?

After seven years, why is random yelling still the way that TSA screeners communicate their superstitious rules to people in line? Will this still be true in twenty years?

Why don’t we spend some of the time and money we’re wasting on security theatre to do things like secure ports or make airport runways safer?

Why don’t hotels have very simple alarm clocks?

It used to be extremely dangerous to give people on planes a metal butter knife and a fork with their meal. Now, it’s apparently no longer dangerous. What happened? If this was an overreaction not based on data, should reexamine other possible overreactions?

If it’s so dangerous to have your ipod on during takeoff and landing, how come you’re allowed to have it with you on the plane at all? Does all the scolding actually increase safety? How?

Why does the FAA require the airlines to explain to every passenger how to buckle their seatbelt? Don’t people who have managed to safely get to the airport but have never mastered this skill deserve whatever happens to them?

Tom Peters told me that he’s grateful that he has flown 5 million miles but never crashed. I’m also grateful that he hasn’t crashed. I’m grateful that I haven’t crashed either. And I’m particularly grateful about café gratitude in Berkeley (go!) and the wonderful chocolate boutique down the street. But should we settle for silly superstitions and uncaring bureaucrats merely because planes rarely crash? I’m not happy to settle for the incredible waste of talent, time and money that the domestic airline system represents.

We can do better. They can certainly do a better of being clear and rational and responsive, don’t you think?

And of course, so can all of us that run organizations.