The downward spiral of Air travel!AKiATECH
As I type this, I’m in pain. I’m not sure where it came from or why it hurts so much but I do think it may be attributed to being seated (very uncomfortably) on a cross-country flight home from a weeklong business trip. Even though I’m not that old I can remember when taking an airplane was a memorable experience, something to look forward to even. Those days are sadly gone, now it seems that the only difference between a passenger plane and a city bus is that the former has wings and uses a heck of a lot more fuel. I’m not saying that these forms of transportation are interchangeable, because they are not, but as far as the experience, I think the city bus may well have a leg up over the typical air carrier.
Today it seems that the airlines only concern is packing their aircraft to the hilt in order to facilitate their goal of amassing as much profits per flight as possible.
I remember seeing old commercials from the 60’s and 70’s that showcased the joy of traveling the skies. When you went on an aircraft you could expect no less than first class service, even though you may have been flying coach that day. They served real food and not overpriced “snack boxes” you had amenities such as in-flight lounges, the staff was super friendly and if you go a little further back in time, some aircraft even came equipped with powder rooms and full galleys. Today it seems that the airlines only concern is packing their aircraft to the hilt to facilitate their goal of amassing as much profits per flight as possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if they implemented a “Standing Class’ then try to convince everyone that it was better for their waistline when indeed it would only benefit the carriers bottom line.
Some people may say, “why don’t you just fly first class” and “you get what you pay for”. To those people I say, There is no “First Class” anymore. Today’s premium option is only a mere shadow of its former self, but in all fairness, I’m basing my judgment on domestic flights by some of the more popular US carriers. I have seen the amenities offered on international flights and some niche airlines that blow away those of the mainstream carriers, these are few and far between though and usually not very practical for the flying most people do, especially business travel.
I’ve listed a few things below that you can do to avoid some of the problems you may face during your travels:
- If you can avoid checking bags, you will save yourself a huge hassle and cost when you get to the airport. A single checked bag will cost at least $25 on some carriers and don’t forget the lines. I save myself about an hour by not checking any bags on this trip
- Make sure that your carry on items fit within the criteria set forth by the airline. Don’t be surprised if you get to your gate with a large bag and are forced to check it, or worse after you have already boarded your flight.
- eat before your flight if you can, one leg of my flight was over 3 hours and in that time, we were only served a beverage, although I was able to purchase a sandwich for a little under $10
- If possible, get up from your seat and move around. With the limited space available on some aircraft, you will most likely be in serious pain over the next few days after your flight.
- bring a book, an e-reader or some form of entertainment for long flights. Gone are the days of in-flight movies, unless you’re willing to pay movie theater ticket prices that is.
- Many airlines provide portable apps that allow you to check the status of your flight and view updated boarding times and gate information. In the case of the carrier I flew on, the app provided altitude, speed, and ETA, which was very helpful.
- Beware of the displays that are installed on some aircraft, it seems that their main purpose now is to hawk the airlines digital services, which can become extremely annoying after the first ten times. I did find out though that if you turn the brightness all the way down it will turn the screen off.
- If you’re thirsty you can actually ask for water prior to the meal service. I had someone seated next to me who was extremely thirsty and they ended up getting two cups of water on top of their beverage.
- If you can, book your flight as early as possible, this way you can get “premium seats” which can go very quickly, also the earlier you book the less you pay. My ticket price jumped $40 dollars in one day because I hesitated to book.
- Last but not least, remember that most tickets are non-refundable so use trip protection, it can save you a lot of hassle if you ever need to make any changes to your flight schedule.
- Quick Tip: sign up for frequent flier programs, some have hidden perks that make your trip a little better and give you the ability to accrue “mileage” or “points” that can be redeemed for discounts on future flights. Plus it’s free so you can’t really lose.
When I planned my flight, I chose the first flight out and the last flight in so as to avoid the “congestion” that one typically experiences at the airport. In order to save myself the $50 round-trip checked bag fee, I chose to squeeze one weeks worth of clothes and toiletries into my carry-on and personal item. This needed to be accomplished with surgical precision because there really is no space within the confined dimensions required by the airlines for non-checked bags. Lucky for me I chose not to check any bags, because when I got to the airport at 4:00 am I was greeted with a line that almost snaked out the door. I did everything I could to avoid the check in counter, including checking into my flight on the web and pre-printing my boarding passes. This saved me a lot of time by allowing me to go straight to the security screening area to get my TSA “pat down”.
If you haven’t flown recently, you will be happy to know that everything is digitized now. Gone are the days of invasive body checks and long lines. If there is one thing that has improved it’s the efficiency of the security checkpoint. It’s still a bit inconvenient and uncomfortable but based on current events, also a necessary part of flying. For the most part, my experience was pretty reasonable based on complaints I’ve seen on the internet and other public forums. I had four flights total and out of that number only one flight was problematic, and I mean it was bad, so bad that it completely ruined my entire trip as far as the traveling portion goes. I was lucky to get window seats on all but one of the flights and the one flight that I got stuck in the middle seat was the one that killed the experience for me.
After I left my connecting flight. I arrived at my gate which was a good 20 minutes away from the one I landed at. I sat there for about an hour waiting for the boarding call. Boarding started about 15 minutes later than scheduled. Once I got on the plane, I found my seat and waited for boarding to be completed, this took another 30 or so minutes. Once everyone had boarded and taken their seats, the flight crew made an announcement that the pilot would be about 15-20mins late due to being stuck on another flight. This tends to happen from time to time, so I get it, no biggie. After the pilot arrived we were treated to one of the longest taxis I’ve experienced in a while. Finally, we were airborne which was non-eventful, initially, but shortly after we were told that we would be hitting turbulence and within a few minutes that’s exactly what happened.
This went on for about half the duration of the flight and ended up delaying the meal service if you can call it that. Once the plane stabilized, the flight crew started hawking their wares. I ended up purchasing a $4 bag of gummy bears and waited for my free drink to wash the gelatinous treats down. A mere 15 minutes after I receive my meal the pilot came on the P.A. to tell everyone to get in their seats for our arrival at our destination. The aircraft then began a quick descent causing pressure to build up in everyone’s ears including two infants that were onboard. Let’s just say that it was not a good experience for anyone on the flight that night and then to top it off we had a hard landing, officially making this the worst flight that I have been on in recent times. I’ve tried to give you a quick synopsis of my experience with air travel in 2016. If you have any experiences that you would like to share please feel free to leave a comment below.