I remember when plane travel was exciting. As a kid I was always super stoked to fly somewhere – I loved the delicious meals that were all compartmentalized (they somehow tasted better like that), the trips up to the cockpit to say hello to the pilot who was always happy to meet a few passengers, and the friendly flight attendants who really meant it when they said “I hope you enjoy your trip.”
However, my last plane trip (I won’t mention the airline) involved a much less rosy picture – I got the much-feared and always-hated middle seat of three, and was sandwiched between two substantially larger people who immediately claimed the armrests, I had a video player with no audio, and I sipped on my refreshing beverage of ginger ale out of my plastic thimble… all after a two-hour delay. Luckily I wasn’t on the flight with the disgruntled steward who mouthed off on the intercom, stole some beer and made a grand escape via the emergency exit. Bon voyage (not!).
While everything about our lives seems to be keeping up with changing technology – our phones have become like convenient extensions of our bodies, cars are decked out with the latest and greatest, while our appliances do more than ever before – planes (and more specifically plane travel) has become as outdated as renting VHS tapes from Blockbuster. They’re old, the interiors have never been modernized, and the customer service is almost non-existent. Whenever I travel, I find myself seeking out other modes of transportation (i.e., train, bus, car, or even boat) to avoid the hassle and aggravation of flying.
And don’t even get me started on the price – time for electric planes, people, because air travel, like the rising cost of gas, is becoming ridiculous in price. And you don’t even get the puzzle-packed meal – you’re lucky if you get a bag of stale pretzels.
So you can imagine my disdain when I read recently on CNN that there are even more airline fees being projected for 2011, extras that may be added for carry-ons, having an infant in your lap, internet “convenience” fees, and even an early check-in penalty (what?!). According to the news outlet, the airline industry made $2.1 billion in fees during the third quarter of 2010 alone, which included more than $900 million in baggage fees and almost $600 million in reservation change fees.
And I can’t get a hot meal in little plastic compartments served to me by a flight attendant who really means it when they say, “I hope you enjoy your trip”? Something’s wrong here.