My Thoughts on Airline Travel

I am extremely disturbed by the airline service currently in force.  Service is not the correct terminology.  It does not exist.

Last month my daughter took a trip to Florida from her home here in California.  She booked her flights with United, but from my experience all the airlines are pretty much the same.

She left Burbank airport at 7 am and arrived in Florida at 6:30pm.  A flight of 6 hours duration actually took 8-1/2 hours.  The flight stopped in Denver for a layover of 2-1/2 hours and a change of planes. The same schedule applied on her return flight.  Only this one took longer.  She was actually in the air 7 hours but in transit for 10-1/2 hours, also changing planes.

Her 2 hour layover on the way home was in San Francisco where her son lives, but she was not able to see him.  She was  in a secure area and could not leave, nor could he come in.  They could not meet.

I do not understand the reasoning behind the airline  scheduling.   However, from a consumer’s standpoint,  it is extremely inefficient.  In the past I often experienced a stopover where some passengers exited and others boarded after which the plane resumed flight.  This I can understand, but to have to wait two hours for another plane is grossly inefficient.  Not only that, but there is an extra charge for each landing and takeoff.  Passengers must pay for this delay and inconvenience.

Not only is the scheduling inconvenient for the paying passengers, but the service is degrading as I write.  No longer can you have pillow or a blanket without a charge, but you must wait in your seat until the bathroom facility is not in use.  If you are not close to the bathroom someone else will surely beat you to the door.  So you must wait.

The seats are so close together that your legs are cramped within minutes.  Don’t try crossing your legs.  And you must pay for the earphones to try to take your mind off of the discomfort you are experiencing.  On a long trip doctors advise walking up and down the aisle to help prevent blood clotting.  That is not acceptable by the attendants, nor even possible.  Have you tried getting out of your seat if you are next to the window?  Good luck with that.

Does anyone understand the baggage restrictions  anymore?  Each airline seems to have their own conditions which some passengers might not be aware of until checking in.   Let the buyer beware seems to be the ordinary.  And bring lots of cash with you.

On a short trip you can always drive.  Hah!  With the current price of gasoline rising daily that is not a valid option.   And on a long trip you must deal with stayovers in a motel or hotel.  I won’t  get into that.

What is a traveler to do?  In my case I no longer travel.  My back problems do not allow me to stand in line for any length of time so that my carryon and I can be searched and screened.  Because I have knee replacements I must endure a patdown which now may be an x-ray.  While this is going on my carryon disappears into never-never land but is available for anyone to snatch or remove items from.  This is the only part of flying that I actually have no problem with.  I don’t like it, but I want everyone searched and screened so that the bad guys are not on any flights.

Whatever happened to service?  Does anyone complain about the lack thereof?  No.  We must travel for a variety of reasons and the airlines know this.  They can do whatever they want because we are captives to their regulations.  We are at the mercy of the airlines.  They can schedule flights whenever they want and charge whatever they want and take away whatever they want and still we fly.  We have to.  There’s no other way to get where we want to go.  It makes me angry.  I can’t see any way we are going to get relief from their greed and inconsideration.

While writing this I did not address the fact that in many cases the pilots are not given enough lay over time to rest between flights which puts all of us in jeopardy.  We are at the mercy of the airlines.  Something should be done.  I just don’t know what.