Memo to Airports & Airport Businesses

So in the last week I endured 12 hours in delays at different domestic airports. I can deal with the downtime and try not to be one of those people who whine about everything. But with all of this time to think, I’ve come up with business recommendations for the airports, airlines and the retail so that they can have happier travelers (read: who will spend more money). This memo is a work in progress and I’d appreciate any builds.


1. Invest in an electrical upgrade so that you can have accessible outlets for travelers like me who are desperate to give our iPhones some extra juice or to charge up our laptops. When I got seated recently at the Callifornia Pizza Kitchen in Las Vegas and there was an outlet next to my table I was elated. I happily ate my soup (yes, soup at CPK) and powered up. Happy customers order more drinks which means to higher tabs and more tips for your wait staff. Want to really show how much you “get” it? Put an outlet at each of the bar stools (and a purse hook)

2. Work with the airlines/airports to put departure boards INSIDE your establishments. When I travel alone, I don’t feel like I can leave my things unattended to walk out of the restaurant to check on my flight delays. So I prematurely close my tab (robbing you of revenue) so that I don’t foolishly miss my flight. It might be nice if your restaurants that are located before security if you also had arrivals boards. Better yet though would be an app where the whole board could appear on my phone but I digress.


1. I’m going to guess that the Brooks Brothers store in the Milwaukee airport is not a high volume establishment. Instead why don’t retailers with more practical items/services take over the airport. My favorite thing about the Pittsburgh airport is that it has a store assortment like a mall (Gap, Victoria’s Secret, a drugstore…) and I never complain about being delayed there. I’d love to see more service oriented spots like pharmacies and express salon/spas, One year I did all of my holiday shopping in the Pittsburgh airport while I waited for my flight.


1. Offer a code for free airport wifi when you have a delay of more than 90 minutes.

2. When you delay a plane that is already boarded, comp everyone free Direct TV (for those airlines that charge and I mean you Continental!). I’d imagine that an entertained travel bitches and moans a whole lot less than a traveler who is bored. If you are really delayed could you comp adults for a premium beverage for when the flight finally gets off the ground?

Let’s build this manifesto. What would you like to see added?

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Dear Airlines and Airports …

So as a seasoned human FedEx package I have a lot of time to think about what airlines and airports could be doing to make my life a little easier.  Here are a few:

  • For every half hour my flight is delayed, I should be awarded some frequent flier miles.  It would barely cost the airlines anything to give me this measly consolation prize since there are already 14 trillion unredeemed frequent flier miles in the airline industry.  I know that a few miles would go a long way in keeping me from being bitter.
  • The jig is up. We all know that you pad our itineraries so that it looks like you are on time more often but it is getting ridiculous. I was on a recent flight that came in over an hour “early” and the passengers nearly gave a standing ovation.  I don’t mean to be a curmudgeon but that is sort of like me saying I want to lose 20 pounds when I only want to lose 10.  Fake goals aren’t going to fool people for long.
  • Some overhead storage should be reserved for frequent fliers.  People are trying to avoid checked bag charges and are stuffing the overhead bins with ridiculously sized luggage.  This feels especially unfair to business travelers who need to make a fast getaway or to people who have to board last because they are in the front of the plane.
  • Every terminal in every airport should have McDonald’s.  I’m not a fast food fanatic but you can find good standby choices (even a few healthy ones) at reasonable prices instead of gambling on the local vendors’ versions of tuna.
  • Airlines should sit families with children together.  When you book your ticket they ask you if anyone in your party is under 18 so they have this information before they show you available seats.  Why not give the rest of the people on the plane half of a chance that there seat won’t get kicked or that they won’t have to hear Yo Gabba Gabba or Tickle Me Elmo? Even if the airlines only do this during school vacation times or on family popular flight routes it would make a world of difference.
  • Either staff up that joke you call a Family line at security or make it go away.  We all know that it is not there to help families but rather to keep them away from business travelers.  Put another person there (preferably one who knows how a stroller folds or can crack a smile occasionally) to help families get through the gauntlet. 
  • Stop nuts altogether.  I have a hard time believing that pretzels are more expensive than nuts so why not do away with all nut products during flights?  Recently I was on a kid packed flight where they served Honey Nut Cheerios.  While I was happy to be given anything, it nearly ruined our flight when I had to stop my 2 year old children from digging in.  (The APA recommends waiting until after 3 years old for tree nuts when there are nut allergies in the family.) Sure I had a huge stash of treats for the flight but trying to wrestle Cheerios from willful twins is no fun.

To be continued …

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April 13, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

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