Next month millennials, the generation that brought us man buns, Pamplemousse LaCroix, and poop emojis, get their own airline. On Dec. 1, Air France officially launches Joon. It’s described as “a fashion brand, a rooftop bar, an entertainment channel, a personal assistant . . . and Joon does flying too!” That’s according to a breathy release introducing the concept. And yes, the official release really says “does flying.”
If I sound like a cynical old poop emoji, well, it’s because I am. Other major airlines have gone after younger travelers by discounting fares or fashioning colorful cabins, but none have done it as brazenly, or as desperately, as Air France’s Joon (rhymes with jeune, the French word for young). Joon flight attendants will serve protein shakes and organic snacks while wearing sneakers and snug, jaunty uniforms that are heavy on the stripes. Seats will be outfitted with plenty of tech thingamabobs.
It’s as if the folks at Air France were handed a marketing study of millennial stereotypes, shoved them all into an airplane, and sealed the door.
At the risk of sounding like a nine-alarm narcissist, I have a pressing question for Air France. Where is my generation’s airline?
As a card-carrying member of Generation X — the card in question is my driver’s license — I think my generation deserves an airline as well. Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1984, is the generation that followed baby boomers and preceded millennials. We are the forgotten middle child of generations. Think of us as the Jan Brady generation. It’s always “Marcia Baby Boomer” this and “Cindy Millennial” that.
What would an airline for Gen Xer’s look like? Flight attendants should resemble Molly Ringwald and Leonardo DiCaprio (the young Leo, please). I suppose uniforms would include Nirvana grunge flannel, Lisa Loeb glasses, and some ill-fitting Moby cargo pants. Technology should probably center around Apple’s clamshell iBook, while streaming entertainment would lean heavily on John Hughes’s full catalog of films, in addition to “Melrose Place,” “The Facts of Life,” and “The Golden Girls.”
The downside of this dream Gen X airline is that the baby boomers would start grumbling for an airline of their own. The boomer airline slogan? “A Kindle in every seat, free Crestor with every beverage.”
My point — yes, finally, here it comes — is that Generation X and baby boomer airlines make as much sense as a millennial airline. I think everyone wants the same thing from their flight —
The latest indication of what travelers of all generations want can be found in a study released last month by the International Air Transport Association. More than 10,000 people surveyed around the globe said that they wanted to spend less time in airport lines, particularly at security. They’re interested in mobile check-in, tagging their own luggage, quicker lines at border control, and not emptying the contents of their bag when they go through TSA checkpoints. They also want decent Wi-Fi in the air.
This information might be useful to Southwest Airlines, which is also trying a millennial-friendly tactic of its own. It recently began the terrible idea of holding pop-up concerts on select flights. Just as the babies in the cabin have fallen asleep or you’re lost in a good book, a random band might start playing a tune. A tune that nobody requested, or wants. To my friends at Southwest, I kindly ask you to scuttle unnecessary live entertainment and spend that money and energy on getting rid of your $8 fee for Wi-Fi. Again, sorry to sound like a cynical old poop emoji.
I don’t mean to drag all airlines into this rant. Only Air France is launching a “Look at us millennials, we’re cool” brand, but the focus now should be placed on solving problems such as convincing people to leave their socks on during a flight or not punching and dragging passengers.
Air France’s Joon is pledging “a new travel experience for all customers.” I say before we get to a new travel experience, let’s work on fine-tuning the one that already exists.Christopher Muther can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther and on Instagram @Chris_Muther.