Saturday, March 19, 2005

The gods of Airplane Seating Hate Me

I have flown numerous times in my lifetime. In fact, over the past several years I have averaged at least 1-2 flights per month (Mostly to San Diego, the most beautiful place on earth. I am sure you are asking how I do this as a graduate student. That's my business my friend.). There are two problems I run into when I fly. The first is that I have yet to be seated next to a REMOTELY attractive female. How is this possible? I postulated that for some reason attractive women do not fly, or at least do not fly as often as the rest of the population. This may be possible and I don't have the analysis resources to tackle the question but it is still statistically unlikely that one would fly at least 30 times over a certain period and never have a beautiful woman seated in the same row. The second major problem is that not only am I not seated next to a smart, beautiful, funny female; I am almost always seated next to an obese man who thinks that he owns the arm rests because he has eaten 5 cheeseburgers a day for the past 20 years (For future reference, one person's elbows get the portion of the arm rest closest to the seat, the other person's forearms get portion farther from the seat.).

Would it be possible for airlines to require photos of travelers and then make them available to other passengers when they are making their reservations? It may help in security (It couldn’t hurt for the attendants to know what the passengers are supposed to look like.) but would definitely help when picking seats. We have all seen (or at least most of us) those little pictures of the plane with stick figures sitting in the seats to indicate availability. What if there was a picture of each individual instead of that stick figure? We would be forewarned that there was a man resembling Godzilla in seat 17C and perhaps, that there was an attractive female in seat 13A.

I can see the problems with this scheme. The beautiful girl (I am not mentioning good looking guys because I'm a guy and it's my blog. One would think that the cases would be fairly similar) would never, no matter how empty her flight was, have a row to herself and the guy who’s been making too many return trips to the bacon bar is rewarded with an empty seat next to him every time. This could be balanced by sending “requests” to the person you would like to sit next to which they would, in turn, approve, reject, or rank in order of preference (Or simply not reply. This option gives them plausible deniability should they be forced into a conversation with you in the waiting area.). That way the woman would have at least SOME control over her row-mate. Of course, as the plane filled and seats became scarce the ranking system would kick-in to fill the plane. Something like this already exists in a less structured fashion on Southwest. The “cattle” system allows passengers to pick their own seats. Unfortunately, that system doesn’t allow the person already sitting any control over who sits next to them (And lord knows I’m always in the “C”, or last group to get on the plane. Who wants to get to the airport 3 hours early to get an exit row?).

The real solution to this problem is to only fly to and from one of three cities, San Diego, Scottsdale, or LA (on the weekend flights to Vegas). The concentration of attractive women in those cities is so high you are almost guaranteed a great flight unless, of course, you’re me. United, USAir, Northwest, and Hooters airlines should take note, there is money to be made from superficial passengers (Which is the majority of the world even though most are loath to admit it) via this scheme.


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