Saturday, September 16, 2017

Letter to the editor: Remember when flying was fun?

Remember when flying was a pleasure and not an ordeal to be survived? Even airline employees acknowledge this; in defending the indefensible conduct of a flight attendant on a recent American Airlines flight, the National Flight Attendants Union used the term “air rage” and placed part of the blame where it belongs: on the airlines whose greed has made customers more miserable.

For those who don’t remember, there was a time you could check at least one bag for free, beverages were complimentary, and meals were served on flights of at least 3 hours’ duration. Passengers were not charged for pillows or blankets, and an average-sized man could fit comfortably in a coach seat. Americans have grown larger and airplane seats have shrunk; adequate legroom is a distant memory. To reap a few more bucks, airlines squeeze in more seats, resulting in smaller seats squished closer together.

Passengers are already stressed by the various indignities they suffer at the hands (literally) of the TSA: long waits, full body scans, bodily pat-downs, and scrutiny like we are all terrorists. (My then-75-year-old, wheelchair-bound mother was body searched at a Florida airport; I guess the TSA thought she was a member of Hezbollah Grandmas.) Then the hapless passengers board their flying tube praying for carry on space because they didn’t want to pay $25 each to check their bags. They will receive surly service from equally stressed flight attendants, no pillows or blankets and, if they are lucky, a bag of peanuts thrown onto their tray tables. And now we know that paying passengers can be FORCIBLY removed from seats they reserved and paid for in advance in order to accommodate the convenience of non-paying airline employees. Thank goodness for video cameras on cell phones!

I was once reassigned from the mid-plane seat I reserved to the worst seat on the plane: last row, next to the lavatory - all for the convenience of a deadheading flight attendant. It was an object lesson on how airlines feel about the passengers.

I am sure most members of the flying public have horror stories. Maybe we should compile them into a book and send a complimentary copy to the airline CEOs of our airlines ... Naah, they don’t care as long as they rake in the big bucks. After a particularly horrendous experience on one airline, I fired off an irate letter to its CEO informing him that I would rather have a root canal and a Pap smear on the same day than fly on his miserable airline. To their credit, I did receive a response. I will drive six hours to Atlanta rather than fly there. I can leave my car when I want, stop for a nice meal en route, and arrive at a time convenient to me. I am in control.

What amazes me is how we have become sheep, putting up with all this. It is no surprise that we are then treated like sheep. Nothing will change until we treat flying like any other commodity or service and vote with our pocketbooks.

Their bottom line is obviously the only thing the airlines care about. So let’s send a message that we aren’t going to take it any more.

By Michelle Covert
Panama City Beach

Original article can be found here ➤

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