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  • Writer's pictureAlex MacPhail

The wonder of Flight

I’m at the airport again today. This is the third time I’m flying this year. And I’m excited! Very excited. This must be why flying took off. There is a fascination and wonder about flight and although we know the physics of it, the mystique remains.

Over the past several years flying became a drag. Airports were busy, parking was a nightmare, checking, security, “duty-free” shopping, boarding, all became hurried and unpleasant. Once on board, jostling for overhead cabin space and queues for the lavatory were the order of the day.

The increasing demand in air travel made the aviation industry a well-oiled machine. This came at great cost to the user experience. I wonder if there is an addiction here?

Hear me out a little. When we enjoy something, we start indulging in the activity of substance more and more. As the consumption increases, so the enjoyment decreases. This is basic economics, called utility. As something is consumed more and more, the utility of the item diminishes. Imagine a chocolate or some freshly baked bread with butter. This first bite is amazing, the second less so and by the time you have eaten the third bar of chocolate you are not interested in chocolate for days to come. The utility reached zero in this example.

Perhaps flying became an activity that was so appealing that the supply increased to appease the appetite. With the increase in demand, airports and infrastructure that supports aviation got busier. The results of the congestion made the experience less enjoyable and the utility dropped.

Sharing a chocolate with someone, tickles your appetite. The beautiful mouth feel has been reached and a sense of indulgence has been had. It leaves you with a desire to want more another day. If you had more chocolate in the kitchen, you might reach for another. If you didn’t have more chocolate, you would be left with high utility and an enjoyment in the experience, but also wanting more.

Back to flying, if we had continued to enjoy the experience of flight, with fascination and wonder, we might have been left with a higher level of utility and desire. Now that we have just experienced the largest global experiment in air travel, we will see what appetite there is. The questions now becomes, what are we going to do differently to ensure we don’t head down the same broken path?

- Alex

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