October 13, 2021.   The Simplest Things.

What most people are curious about right now is the plight of Southwest Airlines, which was forced to cancel hundreds of flights over the past several days. I wish I had some special insights into what’s going. Alas, it’s as confusing to me as it is to you. Staffing issues, pilots upset over vaccines, bad weather, air traffic control snarls… it’s all of the above, maybe. Meanwhile it’s funny how the airlines continue taking their 15-minute turns of infamy. Delta, American, Spirit, Southwest; each has had its well-publicized spell of operational breakdown over the past year. Who’s next?

What I’d really like to talk about, though, is something even more frustrating and confounding: the lack of fold-down cup holders on U.S. carriers.

This photo was taken last week aboard an Avianca flight in Colombia. The plane was an Airbus A320, on a quick internal hop from Santa Marta to Bogota. One sees these nifty devices on foreign airlines all the time, but virtually never on American ones. Why? It’s nice to have your beverage there in front of you without having to deploy the entire tray. There’s more room to move around, and getting in and out of the seat is easier. As a bonus, you can use the thing as a hook for your headset cord or earbuds. The one above even has a little nook behind the ring, to store your milk and sweetener.

Speaking of trays, notice how the one shown is hinged in the middle, allowing you to deploy it only halfway, giving you additional space, if you want it. Another useful idea.

I know, I know, of all the things to complain about. And airlines, rightly, put the bulk of their cabin investments elsewhere. But considering the minimal costs involved, why the hell not? These are not expensive amenities.

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