Friday, July 07, 2006

Airline Industry - How worse can they make it?

Is there anything enjoyable about the airline experience still left? Ok, other than the fact of not having to drive 28 hours straight to get where you want to be by going through everywhere you don't want to be. I guess that and the novelty of looking at the world from 30,000 feet; that one still fascinates me - looking at cars like they are ants going to and from the nest (and throw something in that path of cars and they will behave just like ants and move around it to get back in their line).

But is it just me or have things gotten worse on every aspect of the travel experience?

- Now instead of being served a crappy meal, you have to buy the crappy meal. At least they do warn you before hand. My travel agency said right on there that if I don't want to buy their crappy meal to be sure to eat before hand or bring edible food on board. Ok, maybe I'm paraphrazing a little but...but not very much.

- Used to be I was rewarded for always doing carry on. I could get there late, walk right up to the gate and get my boarding pass there. Now if you fly internationally, they require you to go to the ticket counter up front. No kiosh, no get-out-of-luggage-hell free card, nothin'! So I'm forced to stand in the same line as the people who have brought enough luggage to live in Siberea for 3 months and never wear the same thing twice. Of course now, I don't get that fast track benefit and instead, I'm forced to fight my way to the front of the line to get on board early so I can ensure I'll get space in the overhead compartment. I'm thinking of bringing a sprinters starting block to really get a jump start on my loading zone group. The guy knocking over the kids and old people to get to the front of the line? Yep, that's me...

- Is it me or are these security checks just getting worse and worse? Guy has a bomb in a everyone gets to take their shoes off. Like we want to see their socks that they haven't changed in a week and has holes in the toes. I mean, if somebody gets busted for having a fake ear that is a bomb, will they start pulling on people's ears to make sure they are real? Just use your imagination on what other body parts they might target? Forget about going to the booth in the adult video store, you'll be able to go to the airport in the future!

Oh, and that inch long toe nail trimmer? Lethal weapon!!!!! What were you thinking? I passed some airport recently that had a large display of things confiscated from travellers. Most of it was your basic pocket knife or scissors or letter openers. But there in the middle was this knife the size they used in the Rambo movies. What was that guy thinking? He's probably been detained to Guatanamo Bay for special interregation! Of course, pre-9/11 I once tried to bring a meat cleaver through the security check. It was innocent enough, my wife at the time had wanted me to pick up a meat cleaver from Chinatown and I always do carry on so I wasn't really thinking when it came time to leave. You should have seen the security guys faces when it went through the detector? "Huh? You mean I can't bring on a meat cleaver? But it's not the kind that can cut through bone...does that make a difference?". Ok, if that had been a post-9/11 scenario I'd be on the news and detained at Guatanamo...

But some security is just so pointless. I got pulled aside and they pulled out my generic plastic squeeze bottles of shampoo and conditioner and confiscated them because they didn't have a label! Note to self: put bomb in the Head and Shoulder shampoo next time. Give me a break!

Leaving the Philippines, you go through an elaborate security process and you walk down this hallway to your plane and about 50 yards down the hall there is yet another security screen to walk through. Where do they think anything has changed? There were no doors. Do they think I would have an accomplice rappel down from the roof and load my suitcase with C3 and that this extra security station will catch that?

- Ever have to leave quickly to the airport from work and in order to ensure you actually make your flight by getting through ticketing, security, and the shuttle or whatever it takes to get to your actual gate; that upon arriving you discover that all the decent food restaurants were only back in the main termal section and that you can now not afford to leave to eat? Your entry just became microwaved peanuts! There should be a website that points out just what type of food IS available at the gates for some of these airports because had I known that, I would have eaten first and risked the delay getting to the plane.

- I'm thinking I should start a company that prepares new travellers for what a real airport experience will be. Sort of a reality training event. I could issue certificates of completion. You know, just get some long hallway, throw up a mock ticketing station and security station. Make sure the signs are cryptic and confusing. Hire lots of extras to clog up the process. Buy some plastic uncomfortable chairs to sit for hours in. Pipe awful music and announcements continuously for your added enjoyment. Let's not forget about closing off the closest bathrooms for cleaning...

- And what about mileage rewards? Ever try cashing those in and getting the flight you wanted? The new trick is that an airline like Delta offers almost no flights for straight miles anymore; instead they offer a whole lot more flights if you use double your miles! What an irritating trick. Oh, and that credit card I had that used to give me a ticket anywhere in the continental USA for only 14,000 points? They've revised that. The 14,000pts only applies to trips that cost less than $150. Yeah, like you can go anywhere for that amount. The only thing you can do for that amount is to schedule a trip that just has you sit out on the tarmac and goes nowhere. Portland to Portland!

I could go on indefinitely on this subject; but I guess then, the experience would be sort of like being at the airport...


House of Suz said...

Sounds like someone travels too much. Poor you.

markjamesmurphy said...

I've always felt that they should have 'Anesthesia Airlines'. You go into a comfy departure lounge and are put out completely. When you are brought back to consciousness, you are in a comfy arrival lounge at your destination.
In between, you are loaded into the plane on racks of cots and are attended to by a staff of anesthesiologists. The plane wouldn't need a whole lot of amenities and could be stuffed to the gills. Added bonus: if the plane crashed, none of the passengers would suffer (or even know!)
Subjectively, trips taken via this method would feel like teleportation!

Ed said...

Excellent idea. An added benefit to that is that you cannot eat before anethesia so you wouldn't have to eat the airport food!

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