Whatever happens to all those Charleys at the airport? You know, the ones gate agents keep making all the announcements about — “Attention, Charles Someone-or-Other, this is the final boarding call for flight 10 to Nashville at Gate #5. Your flight is departing in (pause… look at watch) five minutes.”
I’m in a boarding area at Ft. Lauderdale Airport and I’ve just heard another Charley call. Like others around me I’m going about my business but secretly waiting for him to come bounding across the concourse any moment now. After all, they’ve been calling him for at least ten minutes.
And then the coup de grâce…”Attention, Charles What’s-Your-Name, the plane door will close in one minute.” Still no Charley.
In many years of flying I’ve rarely seen a Charley, which has gotten me thinking — what if there aren’t any Charleys at the airport, and they’re just making those announcements to keep us entertained? Let’s face it, watching for Charley does give us something to do besides trying to read the back of the newspaper of the guy across from us.
Come to think of it, this could be a real revenue generator for the airlines. They just need to open up airport departure areas for non-passengers for a nominal fee — if they like, people could even opt to get patted down by TSA for a surcharge – and let them watch the show unfold around the gate. Boarding-area theater, so to speak.
I’m in the theater right now. The loud woman on her cell phone behind me not only seems to have a less-than-fascinating life but is working hard to drown out all boarding announcements. Two seats away a guy is belting down a bottle of Diet Coke and, evident by his loud laughter punctuated every few minutes by a loud belch, is having the time of his life watching a video on his iPod. Over by the gate a Southwest agent is admonishing people for not being in a straight queue.
Vegas doesn’t get any better than this and we’re not even off the ground yet.
Come on American, United, JetBlue, et al, get C-R-E-A-T-I-V-E and use your boarding areas to generate more revenue. Charge $15 a seat for non-flyers and you can stop charging us for our second bag. At $25 you can probably get rid of luggage charges all together. And for $40 you could begin serving onboard meals again!
Charleys, of course, would get in free since they’re already part of the act.
(This article originally appeared in the blog The Trends)