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Saturday, July 11, 2015

No Joy in Air Travel

Flying used to be fun, kids, I swear. Free wine with dinner, free headphones, shorter arrival times, longer flights, less layovers. There was even a certain amount of glamour to it. But all that is gone now.

Airlines are now nickel and diming us to death. Baggage allowances are getting smaller, there is a shortage of direct flights to pretty well anywhere. The "hub" reigns supreme. And now the IATA is talking about reducing the size of carry on luggage by 40%.  Yes, that's right...almost half. Add to this extra costs for checked bags, for purchase on board meals, fees for "premium" seats, "preferential" boarding and Lord only knows what else (using the loo on one economy airline in Europe!), it's completely taking the joy out of travel. And that's just the actual flight. This doesn't even include arriving THREE HOURS early for international flights, having your bags weighed like you're some sort of overweight baggage criminal. Then there's clearing security (remove your liquids, electronics and shoes!), finding your gate, possibly having to deal with another random security inspection, having your carry on rejected by the flight attendant, engendering an additional checked bag fee. The glamour is officially gone.

With all this in mind, we find ourselves asking: "should we buy new, smaller carry-ons?" Should we say "screw it!" and just travel via bus/train/boat, or do we, as the airlines hope we will, just suck it up and get on the airplane anyway?

We just don't have an answer, but it's daunting. I can't imagine being a new traveller; someone who is taking their first international flight, and surmounting all of this ridiculousness. The airlines will eventually lose's just not worth it, especially to the newbie. Hey, they can just go to Vegas and visit the Eiffel Tower, Egypt, Italy etc. They'll never know the difference and for West Coasters it's a short flight, with not much luggage required, especially in the summer. So go on "stay-cations", discover your own country, heck even your own town - especially if you can do it in the comfort of your own car and stick your tongue out at the airlines that have obviously lost any sense of customer service or obligation to the people who pay their way.

That being said, the airlines in South America are more generous to their long flight guests, so all is not lost, maybe give them a try and enjoy a bit of what flying used to be about. To the other airlines, that have created a class system that makes me want to slink into the coach section, like I'm not worthy of even laying eyes on the first class passengers, shame on you! Pull up your socks, develop a better business model and stop punishing the coach passengers for not being able to pay for first/business class. ( Canada the ticket is often double the price!)

I will say thank you to the airlines that rejected the IATA recommendation of down sizing carry on...and to those of you that try and sneak things on that you well know are oversize, please don't continue adding to the problem, no matter how tempting it is! (Trust me, I know the lure of taking everything into the cabin with you!) We won't talk about the possible class action law suits against Air Canada and several US airlines regarding collusion to rig costs at inflated, we won't discuss that yet. 

I raise my $8 glass of (mediocre) wine to all of you that continue to fly the unhappy skies to get to strange, new, wonderful places and see what the world has to hold.

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