Lets cut to the chase – instead of slowly reducing the quality of airline travel, why not remove all the seats , and put in cattle pens today. And instead of charging a fare that has absolutely no relation to the final charge of air travel, we should just give the airlines direct access to our bank accounts and our house keys, and just let them take it all. It’s getting to that point anyway, so why don’t we just bend over and drop out trousers today.
As you might suspect, I’ve just come off a flight, and the injustice is still very fresh. It’s reached the point where the airport staff and onboard attendants are actually embarrassed by the charges and low quality of service.
We’re all used to (but still affronted by) the charges for excess baggage. But Continental (who are now United) now charge $25 per bag for the first checked back, each way for flights. If the bag is overweight, or if you want to carry a second bag, I believe the changes are dramatically higher. Twenty five bucks may not seem a lot, but it has two huge knock-on effects.
Firstly it means that every passenger now has to spend about ten minutes checking in, as these credit card transactions are done in airline coding systems, and so require a megabyte of codes to be entered to process. So queues now go much slower, requiring much larger cattle pens to hold the potential passengers.
But the second issue makes the whole process so much worse. To avoid having to check bags people are maxing out that carry-on allowance, with maximum-sized carryon bags, and maximum sized handbags or laptop bags as well. So now the process of boarding is three times as long as there is never enough storage space on the plane for the luggage.
When you eventually make your way up the aisle, found a space for your bags, have squeezed into the incredibly tiny seat (which invariably creaks or has a broken reclining mechanism, which either doesn’t recline or reclines automatically every time you lean back), You then find there is a TV in front of you that requires a credit card, and since the airlines now charge for food, the people to the side of you have brought their own lunch, which smells like it is two weeks old and made of rotting cabbage and garlic.
If it wasn’t for the fact that I love to see the world, I’d tell the airlines to stick it.
But here’s the thing, there are some wonderful airlines out there, and I may have to start to choose where to travel just by the airline. If a good airline doesn’t go from here to there, maybe there isn’t worth seeing.
Listen up mayors and tourist boards of the world, you need to fight crappy airline service, if you want to keep people coming, or you might just find yourself pulling an Iceland level financial crisis.