I hate the airports and their lines.
I hate the long concourses that go on for miles. They just keep adding on to them, stringing them out in either direction. Whoever designs them sits there thinking “yeah, it is a 30 minute walk but they have no choice so tough for them.”
I really hate the airports that have bad ventilation, so you are smelling icky food prep odors all the time.
I hate the checked baggage fees that cause every single person to bring a carry on, for which there is not enough space. Boarding has become a special hell as a result.
But most of all, I hate the planes themselves and the attitude of the companies that run them.
Oh, I know how profits are hard to come by and all of that. However, there has to be a line somewhere in how far they will go in abusing their customers. Doesn’t there?
In August it was revealed that several airlines (which means eventually all of them) are going to make the seats narrower and the rows closer together. Is it even possible? I am trying to picture it. Already on several airlines the seat in front of me is about five inches from my nose and it is impossible to lower the tray. I am not tall, but my knees are against the back of the seat I face. Already most airlines should sell coach tickets with the warning “Do not buy if you are bigger than a size 6 lady.” And, oh my, if a man who is taller than 5′ 9″ gets in one of those coach seats, you worry if he will ever be able to get out again.
It seems that the airlines have figured out that some people will pay a bit more to have a bit more space. So they are going to squeeze the standard coach fare people into even smaller spaces. This will do two things for them. One, it will open up some space to give over to higher ticketed seats. And two, it will oppress more customers, some of whom will give up the fight and pay for those higher ticketed seats. Shrewd, I must say. Someone will be getting a bonus for thinking this up. WE, however, will only hate flying and the airlines all the more.
So, who is doing this? Take notes and put them on your fridge, should you have any choices: American will be squeezing another seat in every row of its 777s, going from 9 seats to 10. United will have 9 seats across in its new 787 Dreamliners, compared to Japanese airlines that only use 8. Southwest’s new planes will have thinner seats and also add another row so its passengers will get squeezed in two directions–less width and less “pitch.” United is also switching to narrower seats on its Airbus planes so it can add more. Jet Blue is joining in this trend. Heck, they all will be. USAir was not mentioned in the Chicago Tribune article that I read. I think it may be because they have already done this stuff. I am forced to fly them a lot and know of what I speak.
But don’t worry—- in return passengers are supposed to get better entertainment, to distract them from the hell of their situation. And new planes will be designed to give the “perception” of spaciousness in the cabin. Oh, goody. I can watch edited movies on a 7 inch screen while I drink the glass of soda I may be served. That is supposed to keep me from noticing that the guy next to me has his elbow in my chest.
I have a rule of thumb that says if I can drive someplace in 6 hours or less, I do not fly. I am thinking I may have to make it 7 or 8 hours in the future. Already I think twice about a trip if it involves flying more than three hours. I did not attend a conference this summer because it meant too long in the sardine cans. I will also make use of sites like Seatguru when picking flights, if I have any choice of airlines or planes.
The airlines assume that if they are all abusive to us, none of them will be disadvantaged. We will all continue to accept it, no matter how bad it gets. But I am not alone in avoiding them. And when there is a choice, like the alternative in the eastern corridor served by good Amtrak service, they are losing customers. They do not care, however. They have found a system of bad customer service that increases profits. As long as it works for them, the more they will squeeze us— physically and financially.
Do you enjoy flying? Do you have to do it much?
What matters most to you? Price, nonstop, comfort, or something else?
Are you willing to spend extra on a ticket to get more space? $10? $50?
Do you have a favorite airport? A least favorite one?
Written by Madeline Hunter
NYTimes Bestselling and two time RITA-winning author of historical romances; lover of artisan jewelry; industry numbers wonk. Her next book, The Counterfeit Mistress, will be published Sept 24, 2013.