Last week, I was coming back from Italy on board a low-cost airliner. In a number of ways, this company was just as good, in terms of passenger experience, as the so-called “full-service” traditional airlines.

The on-board sale of sandwiches, beverages, and candy drew to a close. And then began an ordeal that was especially trying for one member of the crew: selling passengers perfumes and fashion goods, explaining all the while that this was considerably less expensive than the duty-free shop… And that’s not all! Such-and-such a watch comes with a five-year warranty directly from the airline, blah, blah, blah. A hesitant (and, in the end, unconvincing) speech. I truly felt bad for this person, whose profession is to ensure comfort, safety, and the passenger experience, but who was obliged to go through the motions of this sales pitch worthy of a street peddler!

I honestly felt like taking down the flight attendant’s name and writing to the company to attest to the effort deployed by this individual, who is innately unsuited to sales. And what is there to say about the more traditional companies, with their carts pushed down the aisle to sell duty-free goods, the same way cinema ushers used to sell ice cream back when we were kids?

Fortunately, certain companies understand. They have brought in the power of digital technology and offer passengers the opportunity to place orders directly on their entertainment systems for items presented just as well as on a website, made more attractive by one deal or another, and delivered either directly on board the flight – or, even better, to their homes!

When we know that it is possible to fit out an airplane with a WiFi portal to which passengers can connect with their own smartphone or tablet, offering some content, such as destination guides, a handful of TV shows, music, and above all the full inventory of on-board sales from snacks to duty-free goods, and all of this for under $20,000… I also wanted to tell that crew member, “Hang in there, in a few months you’ll once again be able to concentrate on the profession in which you excel: the passenger experience!”

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