According to Virgin America CEO & President David Cush, we hate our airlines because of the dehumanizing nature of travel. And airlines, Cush explained to me after he spoke last week at Fast Company’s Innovation Uncensored conference, have mostly failed to humanize travel, thus compounding our sense of vulnerability in airports and up in the air.
Virgin Atlantic’s innovations, Cush told me, focus mostly on industrial design. The airline is seeking to create a more visually pleasing flying environment featuring such innovations as seat-to-seat chat, interactive entertainment systems and, of course, Internet access. Indeed, he went on, Virgin Atlantic is planning many new social innovations in the future including in-flight social gaming and even social interactions between passengers on different aircrafts.
While not everyone loves even innovative airlines like Virgin Atlantic, there is no doubt that David Cush’s stress on innovation is the most effective antidote to our hatred of airlines. And all airline executives, I suspect, could learn something from Cush’s attempts to (re)humanize flying by transforming our aircrafts into our living rooms.