Sunday, December 21, 2014

When Did Air Travel Become Torture?

by Leann

I remember the first time I rode an airplane and how great it was. Everyone got first class treatment. Nice meals, large seats, leg room--all the things we don't have now. Is it me--or did it seem to happen overnight that a 737 turned into a torture chamber?

Now, everything costs extra, the seats are narrow even for someone like me--5'2" and 110 pounds and people just seem generally surly. I have to make a very long trip to see my grandchildren--a trip to Europe is actually quicker--and I am dreading it. The terminals are crammed, children run around like they've been set free on the beach, people sitting next to you have no problem talking on their phone over the din and say things I shouldn't be hearing about their personal life. And no one smiles. And, gosh, it is so darn noisy. (Can you understand one word of the announcements that come over the P.A. system? I can't, but there sure are a lot of them.)

The overhead bin business is the worst part of it all. Since airlines began charging so much money to check a bag, folks are cramming everything they can into bags that fit in those small overhead bins. And if you rode on an airplane lately, there's always that one person--or often more than one person-- who HAS to know that their overstuffed bag will not fit overhead. And yet they stand in the aisle and push and shove and hold up everyone as they try to fit that square peg into a round hole.

When you take a long flight like we will be taking, there are 4 tiny bathrooms at most. Two for about 200 people and two for about 20 people. There is something very wrong with that picture. It's greedy on the part of the airline and it's downright rude. And what better way to get sick than sharing air with people crammed like sardines into as many seats as they can fit onto a airplane?

I had the joy of taking a flight not too long ago and the child behind me--whose mother had brought no snacks, no toys, no books for her kid, kicked my seat constantly. Flight attendants are so busy rolling a huge cart down a silly narrow aisle--so narrow only one person can really fit--they have no time to pay attention to the comfort of passengers. I love children but I do not love inattentive parents. Screaming babies I understand, but a child deliberately hurting someone over and over without being spoken to by their parent? I don't get that.

The only good thing about airplanes is they can save me a 5 day trip across the country and transform 5 days into one day of travel--because if I had my way, I'd rather drive than deal with so many inconsiderate, miserable people. And even though it's a 6 hour flight, it's a MUCH longer day than that for everyone who gets on a plane.

Yes, there was a day when riding a plane was comfortable and pleasant. But these days that kind of flight is only for the very rich or people who have lots and lots of miles because they have to travel all the time. The rest of us are crammed into "coach" sitting on the laps of strangers. It is a strange, strange thing. Could we have a throwback flight day? Please?

Sorry to be a complainer, but I figure if I get it out of my system, I'll be one of those rare people who can smile and be polite on that long and tiring day traveling to see my wonderful family for the holidays. But they will make me forget as soon as I see their smiling faces. Happy holidays everyone! Maybe I'll see you at the airport!