5 cheap, no-brainer ways to fix air travel

We all agree that flying today sucks, right? From overcrowded planes and weather delays, to outlandish fees and soul-crushing security, it's not fun for anyone. But rather than whine about the insufferably small seats, we decided instead to lend a helping hand -- by hammering out five common-sense, relatively low-cost fixes airlines could implement right now to streamline air travel and make everyone's holiday more merry.

airport barrier
Dirk Vorderstraße

1. Roped-off boarding lines at the gate

No, we're not talking about that two-foot retractable rope by the ticket scanner that creates a giant funnel of chaos. We mean like at security -- winding. This'd prevent all the nervous Nellies (or 'gate lice') with Boarding Zone 5 tickets from prematurely bum-rushing the door as soon as the first announcement is made. Southwest Airlines is on to something with their numbered boarding lines; the rest should follow their lead.

airplane overhead bin

2. Designated overhead bins

What if every overhead compartment was equipped with adjustable dividers, splitting it into assigned sections -- each just large enough to accommodate one normal size roller-bag? Seems doable, right? End the war for bin space!

airplane seat

3. The full and upright position. Permanently. 

Seats on short flights SHOULD NOT recline. It's that simple. Reclining seats are the product of a bygone era in air travel when legroom actually existed -- those days are over. Done. Sayonara. We are 6'2" and sick of holding our head in our lap from Atlanta to Minneapolis just so you can enjoy five additional degrees of pitch.

airplane cabin
Robert S. Donovan

4. Load the plane by seat type

Boarding the plane from back to front seemed perfectly logical at one time. Then a group of marginally talented "efficiency" consultants used voodoo science to determine that "boarding zones" were the way to go. Except for one thing -- they don't work! Let's fill the plane back to front, but with a minor tweak that'll majorly save time: window seats first, then middles, then aisles. Eliminate the gymnastic requirement of crawling over your seat partners and hurry things along.

Scantron test

5. Require a passenger's license

Eliminate the clueless clods who are to blame for every bottle-neck and blunder in the first place -- require travelers to pass a short online test to demonstrate a certain level of competency and awareness before they can purchase a ticket. Cover how to go through security, how to stow your rollerbag in the overhead bin (hint: NOT sideways!), etc, etc. If you've never flown, there'd be a 101 you could study beforehand. Elitist? Absolutely. But the license would be free, and think about how much smoother air travel would go.