When humanity first gazed to the skies and imagined being at one with the birds, it is unlikely they envisioned the abomination that is air travel. What can be more liberating than soaring majestically through the skies, strapped into three feet of space with three inches separating reclined from upright and reminded every 10 minutes how ever vigilant one must remain because something might go wrong at any moment?
Well, getting off the plane, to start.
There was once a time when I was a starry eyed optimist about air travel. The flight was one of the things I looked forward to when it came to any trip I was taking from cheap holidays to long term backpacking. Looking back on this I laugh at my naiveté and while I do not outright hate flying, I no longer have the fondness I once did for it because, like with everything else, I observe far too much.
Take the pricing system. Why advertise a flight is only $5, when it is simply the subtracted fees, which are often 5 000% more than what is shown? Even discount airlines that offer ridiculously low fares are more than advertised once you add in all the little fees – and often they are only super cheap if you only bring a small carry on. Forget your boarding pass? Fee. Check-in online? Lower fee. Need water? Mineral or spring? Oh yeah, and fee. In other words, bend over and try to relax. You can find cheap holiday deals, they do exist, but flight prices can often continue to add up.
Then there is the most flagrant display of social inequity outside of Czarist Russia – seat classes. It’s bad enough there are different tiers of service onboard an airplane but to march all passengers past the bucket pods and champagne to their sardine tins in the rear? What is this supposed to do, inspire those flying economy to spend the money they don’t have on a standard beyond their grasp? Hmm… well I guess airlines might as well be consistent across all avenues of life. Even still, I’d rather imagine others are living the sweet life than be reminded of its bitterness twice a flight.
I understand the price for air travel is dependent on a large array of factors ranging from fuel cost to government fees, but it seems like every time I turn around it gets more cumbersome to travel. I’m fine with it getting more expensive – it’s unrealistic to expect it to get cheaper when everything else is not. Cutting baggage allowances, paying extra for drinks or food – finding it tough to stay in business? Fold and let someone else do it. Maybe with less competition it will be a more profitable industry.
I guess in the end what frustrates me the most is there is really no other option when it comes to travel over great distances. Sure, there are trains for short land distances but they take too long and can cost more than a flight. Boats? Ha! All the hopes of competition to airlines went down with the Hindenburg. The only hope we can cling to is one day lazy scientists will invent teleportation and liberate us from air travel’s tyranny.
Airline companies may see themselves as some sort of benevolent good that connects people to the places they want to go, maker of dreams, etc… but I do not. I see them as one more ridiculous expense and hassle standing in between me and my good time.
…And that’s why airlines annoy me.
Ryan Air – £1 to use the toilet = liberty
Ryan Air – £6 admin fee each person, each way = scandal
I realise its a budget airline, but come on! I feel like cattle on most flights now and for god sake can they upgrade the seats so that anyone of 5ft 5′ doesnt lose all feeling in their legs after 3 hours of having them crushed up against the seat in front. A head rest wouldnt go a miss either.
I guess we just want companies to be honest with their pricing, and that pricing to be reflected in the services provided.
WHAAA!! that’s insane! I’ve heard complaints about them, but never knew the details..
Hahah yeah I was going to mention Ryan Air in all its majesty but I opted not to. Thank you for filling in the gaps!
And yeah… it would be nice if they would just tell it to me straight and include it in the base price. I mean, I don’t use airline toilets but it’s nice to know they are there, for free, if I do.
Rumour has it that RyanAir are planning to take away/have taken away the £1 toilet fee, but now plan to remove 2 out of the 3 toilets on board most of their flights. The extra space will be filled with more seats. 250 people to 1 toilet … i’ll just cross my legs thanks.
Well, I mean in many cases most RyanAir flights aren’t any longer than a few hours so hopefully you can go that long without taking care of business… that being said, once the thought is introduced into your head it makes the need all the greater…
I hate flying so much, and do you know what… i’m just going to say it. Fat people should pay more. Or have less luggage…. is that politically incorrect??
wow. that’s a little brutal. Is this because someone larger than you takes up your space in the seat beside you?
They actually do pay more. People over a certain weight… not sure if it’s with all airlines, but I know some of them do.
Haha it becomes a slippery slope. Is it right that a 250lb person has the same baggage limits as someone half their size? What about some anorexic who barely breaks the 90lb barrier? Do they get a super mega discount? You could make people pay based on a percentage of their weight, but that’s discrimination AND they still occupy a seat regardless of size… unless they are too big for one seat in which case yes, they need to pay more. Some people have difficulty with their size and charging them more isn’t going to entice them to lose weight – it’ll just create hurt feelings and discrimination lawsuits.
But it all boils down to one issue… flying blows lol.
Great post! And, Jen – I love you for your honesty!
I get so angry about the weight limit on luggage. I had two bags on my flight back to Buenos Aires. One bag was only about 30 pounds and the other 54 pounds. Because of the 50 pound limit on a bag, I had to frantically shove things into the other small bag to avoid a $100 fee. Don’t even get me started on the fact that I weigh a lot less than most passengers (I’m only 5’2″), so I should be allowed to bring more weight in my luggage. If the airlines want to go there, then do it fairly.
Yeah the whole maximum weight thing is garbage when you have two bags and the combined weight is under the total allowed.
Oh, those hidden fees of awesome. I loved booking my cheap flights on Ryan Air, but then having to pay more than cost of a ticket to check a bag. And, horrors … had I not found a printer, I would have had to pay double the cost of the ticket just to have the agent print me out a boarding pass. Airlines can charge whatever they want and do whatever they want (see this past weekend during the snowstorm on the East Coast of the US), because the bottom line is this: we are a captive audience. We HAVE to fly to get places because any other mode of transportation is simply going to take to long on our limited holidays, etc. Unless traveling is your job, then airplanes are the way to go. So, they will continue to pull the same crap … until someone does invent teleporting!
I know! For next time when given the option between RyanAir and other airlines, I may just suck it up and pay the extra whatever it is to use an airline that doesn’t try to rape me at the last possible minute. Or take the train.
It also annoys me how much they keep adding on more charges. I’d rather pay an extra $25 up front and not have to deal with all of that!
And I hate how when you talk to some people they’re like ‘oh well.. it’s only an extra ___’. It adds up! It’s only stupid people who can’t do simple math who get fooled into thinking eight small fees is less than one big fee.
I’m still down for the teleportation system. PEW PEW MOFO.
Hey, the article was good, well written and clear but I have to disagree with you on the real hassle. It seems like the first class vs coach issue is easily sorted mentally…. They paid a a large amount of money to ravel in more comfort. I don’t get pissed every time i see a Porche or a Lambo roll by. We deal with these things, we are not the wealthy but we certainly are the privileged if we have the cash to fly. Fees suck, taxes are balls… avoid them by using different airlines or suck it up and deal with it. Ryan, Air Asia and the likes put you in a vessel the hurtles through the air and safely lands in the city you requested, its all they do.. we know this. Sit back, pretend to relax and think of the happy times you are about to have upon arrival!
Great points Sean, I love the positivity!
Haha yeah I hear ya. And for the record, I don’t get pissed at success or things enjoyed by the wealthy – if I did, I’d be in a tent in some major city right now. Most of those ‘perks’ don’t appeal to me, but the act of flaunting itself annoys me. I also enjoy how cheap companies like RyanAir and EasyJet can be compared to the ‘major’ ones. However, I do not enjoy being told a price is one thing and then it becomes a finely tuned balancing act to keep it at that price if I forget something or being ‘offered’ any number of upgrades. It’s…. tacky. And I think that’s what bothers me the most.
But of course, you are free to disagree.
I can’t stand those hidden fees. I’d rather just know what the whole price is… it’s become like buying a car -I don’t even look at Spirit Air anymore because of that deception… what they think we’re not going to notice?? And besides in some misguided marketing plan, last time I went to the Spirit site they had a pic of a guy with a hairy back.
What? No love for hairy backs? That technique has been used by Greece for decades and look how they are… hmm… I see your point.
Seriously though, I’m with you. But I guess they have to leave the option open for the crowd that is wowed by the ‘low’ costs.
I could think of another dozen or so reasons to hate the airlines, and after a few months of traveling around the world via ship, I’m wishing this is a method I could use always!
I guess it’s changed a lot since the days of the ‘who knows if we’ll see you again’… if only it were faster!
Airlines are so ridiculously overpriced. When I’ve been based in SE Asia I can often find flights for less money than I could buy a bus ticket 😛
OK. I have to disagree. I’ve been flying between North America and Europe for 30 years and I don’t find it significantly worse than it was. And significantly better in many ways. Personal TVs in the seat in front of you. Decent music. NO MORE BLOODY SMOKERS! And it’s still cheap. I’m flying from Denver to Istanbul and back for $900 in March. That’s 12000 miles. Less than 8 cents a mile. And I’ve was on the long flight to Frankfurt a month ago and it’s as comfortable as a plane has ever been in economy. Even if my ass hasn’t gotten any smaller.
Flying is magic. I took a shuttle to the airport through the snow this January, sat in a comfy (economy) chair watching movies, eating, reading and sleeping for 14 hours, got off the plane and walked out into the New Zealand summertime.
It doesn’t get any better.
I’m probably just impatient for the next advance in transportation technology. I mean, I’m not a scientist or engineer… but that doesn’t stop me from getting cranky with those who are for not coming up with something better. We’re only 4 years away from the time Back to the Future said we’d have hovercrafts… so you know… get to work.
Stop complaining. And do your homework.
There all in COLUSION .
What can we do about it???