Airline passengers voting with their feet

posted at 8:30 am on May 30, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

More than six years after 9/11, American consumers have finally lost patience with the airline industry. Air travel dropped sharply over the last twelve months, with 41 million fewer trips. Surveys show that passengers have become fed up with hassles at the airports and with higher costs and poor service:

Nearly half of American air travelers would fly more if it were easier, and more than one-fourth said they skipped at least one air trip in the past 12 months because of the hassles involved, according to an industry survey.The Travel Industry Association, which commissioned the survey released Thursday, estimated that the 41 million forgone trips cost the travel industry $18.1 billion — including $9.4 billion to airlines, $5.6 billion to hotels and $3.1 billion — and it cost federal, state and local authorities $4.2 billion in taxes in the past 12 months.When 28 percent of air travelers avoided an average of 1.3 trips each, that resulted in 29 million leisure trips and 12 million business trips not being taken, the researchers estimated.

The survey results did not address whether travelers chose alternate transportation to pursue any of the journeys they didn’t take by plane. The association estimated overall travel industry revenue at $740 billion. …

In all, 44 percent of the 1,003 air travelers surveyed by phone from May 6 to May 13 said they would take more air trips each year if airport hassles could be reduced or eliminated. The survey, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates Inc. and The Winston Group, had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

People who flew more than five times in the past 12 months were more likely to describe air travel as frustrating, at 52 percent, compared with 33 percent of infrequent travelers, defined as people who flew one or two round trips in 12 months, according to the survey. More than half of respondents said either efficiency or reliability is getting worse, 60 percent said the system is deteriorating, and 56 percent said flying is the “bad” or “worst” part of travel — though 62 percent said air travel security is improving.

I’m not a fan of flying, but that comes from an intense dislike of the sensation, not of the service or the security measures. Airport security has intensified, and that has created hassles, but the alternatives wouldn’t make me more likely to get on a plane, either. If people get to the airport earlier, delays at the security checkpoints cause much less stress. I suspect that “hassles” occur when people try to cut their time too closely and start getting agitated about missing their flight.

However, airlines don’t help much, either. American Airlines just announced a plan to charge for checked baggage, which will only push people to add more carry-on baggage instead, which creates delays in boarding and disembarking. Meal service has disappeared, and now Northwest charges $5 and up for “snack boxes”, although no one has started charging for soft drinks — yet. Seats are jammed together, making the hours-long ride an uncomfortable experience for anyone of normal size.

The more unpleasant flying becomes, the less people will do it. The hassles and the discomfort become added costs to an already-expensive mode of transportation, and as costs add up, demand will drop. If the airline industry wants to get more people onto the airplanes, they should consider ways to reduce these secondary costs.

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Half the problem with flying is the f*cking idiots who refuse to check their luggage!

When I travel by air, I never have to. I bring one carryon, a shoulder bag that can fit inside the carryon if need be, and my portable guitar. I took the latter five years ago, last time I went by air, but I suspect it would be more difficult now.

My mandolin would be easier, eh?

manwithblackhat on May 30, 2008 at 1:35 PM

Arriving early is itself a hassle.

Learn to like the things you have to do…like takin’ a dump dude! Life becomes far more enjoyable when everything isn’t a hassle.

dmann on May 30, 2008 at 1:35 PM

We should also do a better job of profiling bombers and less on blue haired grandmothers.

Kini on May 30, 2008 at 1:38 PM

The 7,000 union workers also won’t allow the airlines to transition to GPS air traffic control, which would allow for a 40% increase in flights and save a ton of costs, thereby lowering prices.

Riposte on May 30, 2008 at 1:40 PM

From a caption for a political cartoon by Steve Benson of The Arizona Republic, Creators Syndicate:

In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the compartment above your head. For $15.00, you can activate it…

manwithblackhat on May 30, 2008 at 1:46 PM

Sounds like airline passengers need to take a little advice from Seneca….

Anticipate that everything will go wrong. At worst, you’ll be right and you can be content because your expectations were met. Anything even slightly better than complete disaster will leave you pleasantly surprised.

JadeNYU on May 30, 2008 at 1:48 PM

I hate to fly; I have since I was 10 (and I turn 45 on Monday). The whole experience – even when they had the piano bars (I remember them) – has always been unpleasant to me. I fly because it’s the fastest way to get to the places the Hubby and I love to go – the islands. We leave on Sunday for Bermuda. And we go thru Philly on the way out – I’m just so encouraged by the statement made by RockMom above.

KrisinNE on May 30, 2008 at 1:49 PM

Vincenzo on May 30, 2008 at 9:28 AM

I’m 5’2″ and the seats in coach are ridiculously crowded for me.

I’ve got nothing but sympathy for people like you and my father that are 6’0″ or taller.

JadeNYU on May 30, 2008 at 1:50 PM

Riposte on May 30, 2008 at 1:40 PM

Are these the ATC folks that your attempting to indict? There are many factors other than navigational tools which contribute to congestion, ie. gate capacity, peek times and available airframes. Free flight control methodology will help with aircraft operational costs but will not eliminate the need for controlled airspace and adherence to scheduling.

dmann on May 30, 2008 at 2:01 PM

When I travel by air, I never have to. I bring one carryon, a shoulder bag that can fit inside the carryon if need be, and my portable guitar. I took the latter five years ago, last time I went by air, but I suspect it would be more difficult now.

My mandolin would be easier, eh?

I should have been more specific in my bitching about people carrying on. I understand business travelers, and people who carry very little. It’s the people who are obviously traveling for leisure who insist on bringing a lot of crap onto the plane that kill me. There have been tons of those people on every flight I’ve taken the last few years. And I would suggest a mandolin rather than a guitar.

BuzzCrutcher on May 30, 2008 at 2:05 PM

Well, since airline behavior seems to be a popular topic, I guess I’ll try a second post. My first commercial airline flight was a TWA connie in 1960. I loved TWA and flew on them for over 40 years. They were our flag international airline, which made them the target of any islamic nut that could afford a ticket or some C-4. But even that couldn’t do them in like wall street speculators. Curse you Karl Ichann! Your greed destroyed a good airline.

I also flew privately for a while. I had a commercial ticket for many years, but quit when I was suddenly inverted by an aluminum cloud north of Altus.

There seems to a lot of comments about the travelers’ intense dislike for hubs. I agree. The successful airlines like Southwest don’t really use a true hub system, but a whole bunch of minihubs. If I remember my history right, this was caused by the legacy airlines getting federal restrictions on SWA so they could not fly non-stop to a noncontiguous state to Texas. The legacies also got the major airports to refuse gates to SWA so SWA had to go to the “second” airport in the major cities. Hey legacies, how does it feel now???

The major legacy airlines like the hub and spoke system because they can force everyont to go to their hub for overseas service, which is more profitable. They are going to small foreign built puddlejumpers because they use less fuel and they can stiff their crews. It seems to me the congestion problem is caused by the airlines flying more, smaller aircraft – more flights on short hops to their hubs. Why don’t we get the FAA to reduce the hub slots and force the airlines back to larger, american built aircraft? After all, we will have to pay for the additional ATCs and equipment if this keeps going on.

To close, one good litte memory: I was taught how to fly by an American Airline test pilot, my wife was taught by a retired Navy carrier pilot. I bored her to death and she scared the hell out of me. We stopped flying together.

Old Country Boy on May 30, 2008 at 2:20 PM

Flew Delta to DC last week. It was flawless. First time in a long time. Was pleasantly surprised. My only issue was the fat lady in the seat next to me taking up a little more of my personal space that I would have preferred.

sheesh on May 30, 2008 at 2:23 PM

Back when D-FW first opened (pre-deregulation), we were flying back to New York on American. Our flight was leaving at 12:30 p.m. for LaGuardia, but when we got to the terminal, the Departures screen showed this:

NY-LaGuardia – 12:30 p.m.
NY-Newark Intl. – 12:30 p.m.
NY-JFK – 12:40 p.m.

One look at that and you knew — knew! — the checked baggage was never showing up on the LGA carousel. Fortunately, American finally found all but one piece of it at Newark the next day. But it does show certain aspects of crappy airline service pre-date deregulation.

jon1979 on May 30, 2008 at 2:28 PM

I’m not a fan of flying, but that comes from an intense dislike of the sensation, not of the service or the security measures.

You’ll have to try a new Dreamliner. The plane’s composite materials allow much higher cabin pressure, so you feel like you’re in Boulder, CO instead of at 30,000 feet.

bayam on May 30, 2008 at 2:35 PM

You’ll have to try a new Dreamliner. The plane’s composite materials allow much higher cabin pressure, so you feel like you’re in Boulder, CO instead of at 30,000 feet.

bayam on May 30, 2008 at 2:35 PM

Cabin pressure is kept below 15K feet in all pressurized aircraft…above that and supplemental oxygen is required to avoid hypoxia.

James on May 30, 2008 at 2:40 PM

I don’t know why the airlines don’t adjust their ticket prices to reflect the rising fuel costs. If the prices are too high, then the people won’t fly. Then you’ll get more people aware of the need to drill in ANWR and off the coasts of Florida and California. Also, need to convert coal to gas. Hey, the military is doing that. Why can’t we?

Charging for checked baggage is just plain dumb. They’re forcing people to try to bring more into the cabin and the overheads.

You know what really annoys me are the people who are seated at the back of the plane and stuff their carry-on in the overheads at the front of the plane. Then the people seated at the front of the plane don’t have any space for their luggage and then have to move to the back of the plane to find a spot for theirs. Its a hassle getting on and a hassle getting off.

cjs1943 on May 30, 2008 at 2:45 PM

cjs1943 on May 30, 2008 at 2:45 PM

The way they do the boarding zones is stupid, too…start at the back and board all the window seats, then the middle seats, then the aisle seats. Rinse and repeat for each remaining half or third of the aircraft, depending on the size.

Accompanied minors and elderly people needing assistance board with their guardians’ zones.

And finally, First Class boards last unless they aren’t going to be a bottleneck at the doors…’at your leisure’ screws it up for everybody else.

James on May 30, 2008 at 2:53 PM

My great, great grandparents owned the land that Dallas/Fort Worth airport now sits on. He sold it in the early 1900′s. Man, the money I could have if he had kept it. Stupid stupid grandpa :)

GoodBoy on May 30, 2008 at 3:36 PM

I haven’t been on an airplane since 9/11. I don’t need stupid security measures, poor service, check in way too early and other stupid problems. If I can’t find an alternative way to travel I just won’t go.

duff65 on May 30, 2008 at 3:54 PM

Boarding from the rear makes the most sense IF it is enforced. Each person stowing carryons blocks the aisle. If you start with the people in front, the aisle is blocked and the people going to the rear can’t get there.

The problem is that the rear-first rule is not enforced. To enforce it, they should call forward the last six or eight rows into a cordoned pen, then call the rows individually out of that group and check the tickets. While that is happening the next six or eight rows can be called into the next pen. On a widebody, they might need to handle four pens with just two rows each.

This would require more people at the gate, but it would get the plane loaded in a third of the time.

Oh, and anybody who tries to cheat is sent back to the other side of Security–under escort.

njcommuter on May 30, 2008 at 4:01 PM

The 7,000 union workers also won’t allow the airlines to transition to GPS air traffic control, which would allow for a 40% increase in flights and save a ton of costs, thereby lowering prices.

Riposte on May 30, 2008 at 1:40 PM

You’re kidding me! They won’t use 21st century technology?

Time for a massive Reagan-like firing!

newton on May 30, 2008 at 4:13 PM

You know what really annoys me are the people who are seated at the back of the plane and stuff their carry-on in the overheads at the front of the plane.

That drives me crazy, and I can never figure out why they do it. I always want to take their bag down and rearranging everything in it — not actually steal anything, just scare them half to death so they don’t do it again.

Tanya on May 30, 2008 at 4:18 PM

Well, I’ll chime in with some of my gripes with flying.

The first has been mentioned: Smaller aircraft. I used to fly often from LaGuardia to Norfolk, VA, a 45 minute non-stop flight on a standard jet aircraft. Now the flight is in a puddle jumper, and is close to one and a half hours for a non-stop, but often there are directs with stops in either Philly, Baltimore, or Dulles, which then makes the flight well over 4 hours. Also, I remember when Piedmont used to fly standard jets on a non-stop from LaGaurdia to Roanoke, Virginia, about 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes. Now that flight on USAir requires a change in Pittsburgh, Dulles, or Charlotte, with the total flight time (not including initial screening time) well over 4 hours, and closer to 5. Still quicker than driving, but the flying time with the puddle jumpers (and the hubs) make flying much slower.

I’m also in complete agreement with the carry-on gripe. I’ve seen vacationers taking up acres of overhead space just to avoid checking anything in. Which also brings us back to the smaller puddle-jumpers: Less overhead room, which creates delays when some yo-yo has a bag that won’t fit in the overhead which now has to be checked into the baggage compartment.

The food gripes are also legitimate, and I haven’t been served a meal on a domestic flight unless it’s over two hours. I do remember my first flight, in 1969, on United, from Norfolk, VA to Atlanta. The meal was served on breakable plates, and metal utensils were provided. Now one is lucky to get even a plastic utensil.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that with the increased lines/time to get through security, some airports have no food kiosks until you get through security. And the food/drink prices are ridiculous, unless it’s something like McDonald’s or Burger King (which are still higher than those franchises outside the airport).

I will say that moving sidewalks/people movers are great, but are way too narrow, especially when one is traversing with luggage.

And the connection issues. Why would the airline book you with a connecting flight in 20 minutes when it takes one 30-45 minutes to walk from gate to gate? I’ve made my connecting flights a few times, after a sprint, with minutes to spare, as in ‘last call for boarding’, which means that the overhead space is now pretty much all gone. This leads to more delays all around, departures as well as arrivals.

RickZ on May 30, 2008 at 4:21 PM

The other thing I’ve noticed is that with the increased lines/time to get through security, some airports have no food kiosks until you get through security. And the food/drink prices are ridiculous, unless it’s something like McDonald’s or Burger King (which are still higher than those franchises outside the airport).

That’s what pisses me off the most. Last time I flew in January, I had a huge bottle of Ozarka, unopened, that I had purchased at the store on the way to the airport. I had to buy another one for four times the price on the other side of the security check. I also had my carry-on with my make-up, contact solution, and a VERY nice bottle of perfume.

The extremely unaccommodating TSA dude made me throw out my water (whoop-de-do). But when it came down to the make-up and perfume, I pitched a fit. I told him that it was a violation of my civil rights to make me throw out my christmas present and he let me pass through.

My husband thought we were going to be thrown in jail. it would not have made for a good start to the Disney trip…

pullingmyhairout on May 30, 2008 at 5:16 PM

That drives me crazy, and I can never figure out why they do it. I always want to take their bag down and rearranging everything in it — not actually steal anything, just scare them half to death so they don’t do it again.

Tanya on May 30, 2008 at 4:18 PM

Same here. I actually, calmly do take their bags down sometimes, and put them in a different place, in order to store my computer on top of my seat. Consider trying it sometimes and experience the screaming from a few seats back. But consider not addressing them, nor honor them, not even with a look.

Entelechy on May 30, 2008 at 5:29 PM

My great, great grandparents owned the land that Dallas/Fort Worth airport now sits on. He sold it in the early 1900’s. Man, the money I could have if he had kept it. Stupid stupid grandpa :)
GoodBoy on May 30, 2008 at 3:36 PM

I sold a lot of the bonds that were used to finance the DFW airport back in the 70s. I was surprised to learn at the time that most of the land the airport was built upon was purchased from Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson. Guess they were just exceptional real estate investors, ya think.

Ghostbuster on May 30, 2008 at 5:47 PM

In the 80s and 90s I traveled constantly (3 platinum cards and 8 gold) it was easy even in europe. I am so glad that I don’t anymore. With the added time in pre-boarding I can drive faster within a 350 mile radius.

jukin on May 30, 2008 at 6:10 PM

I had a trip to Costa Rica this past week. Got on Delta in Dallas to connect in Atlanta. Everyone was on board when a couple of mechanics went into the cockpit. I knew this was going to go sour, especially when I heard them bagging incessantly with a hammer up there! The plane had just flown in from Atlanta but apparently Captain runt legs needed a special adjustment on his seat. The verdict: Captains seat would not adjust properly so they scrubbed the flight. Over half on board were making international connections. IN Deltas favor we rushed to the counter and they got us on a direct Dallas to Costa Rica!Oh yes, must not forget Mr. Lettuce head. Eating at TGIFridays you get a metal fork and plastic knife! Same on the flt on Delta. Don’t they know what a fork can do? Idiots. Oh yes, one more thing. I forgot a left a bottle of water in my carry on and they didn’t catch it! I wasn’t trying to smuggle it but it shows how weak the system is.

wepeople on May 30, 2008 at 8:50 PM

One of my biggest peeves is the difficulty with using frequent flyer miles. They have so many restrictions now and so few available seats that it is almost impossible to fly a family of four anywhere on miles without Herculean amounts of finagling. And try getting a seat anymore for just 25,000 miles. The airlines must have just one seat per flight at that level in order to keep things legal.

inmypajamas on May 30, 2008 at 10:18 PM

If it doesn’t have enough ocean that they can’t build a bridge across it, I drive. I still make two or three flights a year. They all cross the Pacific.

Linh_My on May 31, 2008 at 2:22 AM

I sold a lot of the bonds that were used to finance the DFW airport back in the 70s. I was surprised to learn at the time that most of the land the airport was built upon was purchased from Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson. Guess they were just exceptional real estate investors, ya think.

Ghostbuster on May 30, 2008 at 5:47 PM

I’m sure they had no inside information what-so-evah! lol

GoodBoy on May 31, 2008 at 2:25 AM

I gave up flying years ago, and have only flown across to Venice to catch a cruise and down to South America to catch a cruise. Oh yeah, flew to calgary for a Canadian Rocky Mountain tour. I only flew for that one (from Austin at the time) because I didn’t leave enough time to drive.

Other than those exceptions, I have driven everywhere, including cross country more times than I can count. Being self employed, I have more time flexibility. I can do my emails in the morning, drive all day, confer on the phone via my headset, and then finish up biz at night in the hotel.

This year I am driving to Seattle to catch a cruise ship, and then driving to New Orleans to attend a biz event that I would rather skip (sorry folks, hate the town, hate the weather there in August).

When I flew to Venice back in 2005, I was mnahandeled by some lady security guard. She put her hands in private places I didn’t know was legal when someone is not under arrest. My 80+ year old mom was heavily searched each time. For God’s sake, she is barely 4 feet 10 inches and has congestive heart failure. She is NO threat to anyone.

It was bad then because you had to remove the shoes. Now you can’t even take the toiletries in your carry on? Who needs the hassle.

Next year I plan to take a cruise to the Hawaiian Islands from LA. I will also be driving out there from Michigan. It takes 4 days each way. MUCH preferable to a miserable day each way in a horrible cramped plane in horrible congested airports with NO service and unhappy people everywhere. Shudder.

I have my gas guzzling GMC Yukon, my XM radio so now I don’t even have radio blackouts in the remote rocky mountain areas, and a very comfy leather chair wtih heated seats, and room for MULTIPLE bags in my car, including every liquid container I could possibly need. It is even better now because of all the free WIFI, I can even check emails mid-route during the day without hassle.

I plan to replace my 2003 GMC Yukon with a 2009 or later model. For that I can also get COOLED seats in the summer, and the onstar will now cut off the engine in the event the car is stolen. I look forward to those upgrades. Other than those nice perks, there isn’t anything in my car currently that isn’t totally luxurious and makes for a lovely trip.

Here is a tip regarding the rest rooms. The CLEANEST rest rooms are the modern truck stops, particularly the Flying J brands. I plan my routes and stops around the Flying J locations. I travel solo a lot, and feel totally safe at those stops, as compared to interstate rest stops or random exit stops at random fast food or gas stations.

No lines, no grumpy people, no one groping my privates, no removing my shoes, no cramped seats, no flight delays, no lost luggage, no missed connecdtions.

Why fly? Oh and an added bonus, I have a roomy, comfy totally dependable SUV to drive when I reach my destination. No cramped rental car and no lines to wait to rent a car when I arrive at my destination. I drive directly to my hotel, preferably with valet parking and let them handle my luggage and park my car. Easy as pie.

karenhasfreedom on May 31, 2008 at 2:25 AM

I don’t get to the airport late, so security and the time are no problem. I always check my bag, so finding overhead space does not stress me. What really is the hassle is connecting flights, no room to breath, and the attitude of the flight crew. The last time I flew American Airlines the flight attendant ran over my foot with the cart. I had no room, so I didn’t realize that my foot was in the aisle. When the attendant ran over my foot, her only response was “next time keep your foot out of the aisle.” No “I’m sorry”, or “excuse me”. If you complain, you are likely to be detained or thrown off the flight.

badger on May 31, 2008 at 7:44 AM

Wepeople, actually bad adjustment of the pilot’s seat is not so trivial. I recall an accident report where a female flight instructor had pulled her seat forward to the stops so that she could comfortably reach the rudder pedals and yoke. Unfortunately, she did not lock it in place. When she took her light plane off and rotated her aircraft, the seat rolled back on its track, she grabbed the yoke, which brought the aircraft’s nose up until it stalled out. It impacted the turf long of the runway, killing her.

It sounds to me like that airline captain who wouldn’t fly you with a bad seat adjustment is the kind of guy who won’t take chances with the lives of his passengers.

Tantor on May 31, 2008 at 9:29 AM

The airlines have black olived us to death. Way back when, American Airlines was trying to cut costs when one analyst realized that removing one black olive from their salads served in flight would save the airline $60,000 per year. By degrees, they have whittled down the service they provide, each reduction nearly imperceptible to their customers, until the cumulative effect of the lower quality of service is impossible to ignore. It was a fallacy of composition, thinking that since individual cuts in quality would not be noticed, the lesser quality overall would not be noticed.

The decline in quality is a necessary consequence of deregulation, which had assured the profit margin of airlines. Deregulation lowered the barrier to entry to discount airlines, which trimmed away the profit margin of every airline. If you can’t raise your prices, you have to lower your costs. That means less service of inferior quality for the customer, like smaller seats and missing meals, and more work for fewer airline employees.

I normally fly only once per year, a Christmas trip home. A few years ago, my flight on American Airlines was delayed and arrived about ninety minutes late. As I deplaned, the loudspeaker called my name to board my connecting flight on another concourse. I took off running, bags in tow. I made it about a hundred yards before my heel caught my bag and I planted my face into the tile at O’Hare airport.

It took about ten minutes to reach the other gate, my shirt soaked with sweat. My flight had already taxied out. The gate agent told me that there was no more flights to my destination that night and that American would not put me up in a hotel for the night because the delay wasn’t their fault. She then launched into a series of accusations that it was my fault for missing my flight. I patiently pointed out that it was impossible for me to make my flight, since the earlier AA flight had been delayed. She became weirdly and obtusely strident about blaming me for missing my flight.

I’m not a guy given to fits of anger but I can see the reasons for air rage. Getting mad and chewing arrogant airline employees out is about the only satisfaction a screwed and put up wet passenger is going to get. However, I don’t believe in letting bad people set the tone for my behavior. I walked away and spent the night sleeping on the hard floor at O’Hare to catch the first flight out in the morning.

My revenge was to never take that flight again. I realized that I could drive a rental car to my destination from O’Hare for much cheaper and in about the same time. The people at the rental car counter are always nice to me, unlike American Airline gate agents, and their service is far more reliable. That rude gate agent has cost American Airlines thousands of dollars of my business. I didn’t get mad. I got even.

What the airlines forgot is that we customers can find substitutes for their product. Perhaps we are forced to fly long distances, but not medium distances. Substituting cars, buses, and trains cuts into the airline profit margins. An airliner has to fill about two thirds of its seats to break even. A handful of passengers can make or break a flight. A string of flights flown at a loss can force the airline to cancel that service. Soon the airline is whittling itself away into bankruptcy.

Added to the awful economics of the industry came September 11, which increased the time and indignity needed to fly. Every minute and outrage added to board an airliner makes the alternatives more attractive. The hassle of flying has driven me to try the train, which I found is a wonderful way to travel medium distances. If you are travelling between New York and Washington, you are a fool to fly instead of taking Amtrak. And the bus is ridiculously cheap, $25 one way.

I suspect that many potential customers of the airlines are finding superior substitutes for the airlines and taking some joy in sticking it to their airline tormentors. I know I am.

Tantor on May 31, 2008 at 10:45 AM

Airplanes sitting for an extended length of time on the runway is the biggest hassle.

jediwebdude on May 31, 2008 at 11:40 AM

My Gripe with flying: I cant stand the fischer price seats. They are incredibly painful after about twenty minutes. And one is CRAMPED in like a sardine. I’d rather crawl over broken glass than fly.

dogsoldier on May 31, 2008 at 1:10 PM

I always fly Southwest.

The difference in the way customers are treated is enormous.

Yeah, Southwest is a discounter, but at least they are straight up about the lack of amenities. The employees still treat you much better on a SW flight then those other airlines.

I flew into to Love Field recently and was astounded at the difference between it and SeaTac. SeaTac just went through an expensive upgrading- they put in frigging marble floors! Love’s field is SouthWest’s home port, and it’s basically a concrete box.

However… checking in and getting through security at SeaTac takes forever, there are all these different bottlenecks. At Love’s Field it was so much less of a hassle. Just the traffic control seemed better, allowing passengers to flow through check in and security in a steady stream.

There were little things too. Like the paper towel dispensers in the bathrooms. SeaTac, like most places with automatic towel dispensers, gives you only the smallest paper towel possible, requiring you to run your hand across the sensor 3 or 4 times before you can get enough paper towels to get your hands dry.

At Love’s Field I was shocked when the paper towel came out at exactly the right length. I only needed one paper towel to fully dry my hands.

Things like that just show the difference in mentality.

Sackett on May 31, 2008 at 2:22 PM

The Stupid Administration allows you to bring a ciggarette lighter for your shoe bomb in your carry on, but you are not allowed to bring bottled milk to feed your infant.

It is this kind of amazaing wisdom that makes flying truly more uncomfortable than diarhea.

paulsur on May 31, 2008 at 9:53 PM

Can one say “BULL” on this forum….I am tired of the BS. We strip search grannies, the airlines lose our baggage, the flights are late if they fly at all, the airlines are nickle diming us, the airlines could care less and the government could fix most of this overnight if they stopped the stupidity and profiled. I have traveled international twice in the last year. On both trips I have had luggage lost and flights cancelled and had to spend money I did not have on delays. I have skipped travel further than I can drive. I took the train across the country last year instead of flying and would do it again. My new city does not have passenger train so I am screwed. Tuesday I am scheduled to get to Seattle for a vacation. I expect the trip to be hell and the airline to lose my bags on at least one leg. There will be no food, the flight will be late and I will be treated worse than cattle on the way to the slaughter house. For the privilidge of being treated like crap, I will pay a premium.

Travel is hell and government is the reason.

JIMV on May 31, 2008 at 10:48 PM

I understand business necessity, and the need to make business decisions to cut costs, and so on.

But what I can’t stand, and what keeps me from flying more often, is Airline Stupdity. It is the moronic, unjustifiable things that they do.

The latest was the announcement by (American Airlines? – I think, I’m not sure) that they we eliminating ALL in flight food and snacks because – get this – it would mean less to carry, and lessen fuel costs.

Any airline executive who says/said this needs to be drawn and quartered by the stockholders. So instead of a few ounces in snacks, each passenger adds a few more pounds into their carry ons with food and snacks. Makes no sense.

Neither did the elimination of most food service over the past few years. Like Benn Franklin said (it must have been him): Penny wise and pound foolish.

Let the big airlines go under, and we’ll see whats left in a few years. Survival of the smartest. In the airline industry, that does not leave much.

seanrobins on June 1, 2008 at 12:23 AM

I suspect that “hassles” occur when people try to cut their time too closely and start getting agitated about missing their flight.

When you have to get there 2 hours before your flight, that’s 4 hours total you’ve wasted. The “might as well drive” distance keeps getting longer and longer.

And at least no federal worker will steal electronics from your luggage when you drive.

vonspringer on June 1, 2008 at 1:59 PM

As a Military retiree, I fly space available. The creature comforts are only slightly less from what I’ve read and the boxed meal is free.

Unless somebody else is paying, I refuse to waste my money on the airlines.

opusrex on June 1, 2008 at 7:38 PM

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