Monday, April 03, 2006

Flying Sucks

2005 was the year when people complained more about flying, a study shows. I don't know what took them so long. Flying has been a miserable experience in this country since 9/11 and it shows no signs of getting better. I don't know how or why people put up with it.
First, you have to deal with the idiocy of airport security procedures, where every two steps some low paid employee with a badge checks your boarding pass for the umpteenth time. Then you have the shoe removal mishegoss and the huge, slow lines. I'm all for security, but there must be a way to make the process both more effective and snappier. Still, one can forgive hassles in the name of security but what is inexcusable is the treatment passengers get from most national airlines these days. Not only are we paying outrageous prices for tickets, once we get on the plane it looks like we're being punished for flying as well. The airlines, some of whom are almost bankrupt, know that people really don't have a choice. What are they gonna do, drive cross country? Start walking? So, for instance, on an 11 hour flight to Buenos Aires on American Airlines, the service on coach class was as if the flight had been from Dubuque to Topeka. Not one measly towelette to wipe your digits, no amenities whatsoever. Disgusting, inedible food. If you go to Europe via Air France, their coach class is like paradise for people with ADD: they have individual video screens with choices of movies and games, they give you relatively decent food, free French wine, slippers, towelette, and a little toiletry bag.
Americans cannot expect service like this anymore from their national carriers, which pack them in like sardines on planes where they add more seat rows where no more fit.
Consumers do well to prefer those airlines that treat them right. The rest, a pox on them all.

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