Flying and dying

Flying and dying

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014


It comes as no secret to anyone that’s flown on an airplane in the past few years that air travel has become such an ordeal. I suppose that it’s the price that we pay for relatively low air fares in a post 9/11 world. My (very) recent flight to Bologna certainly reinforced this point. I had booked the flight with Lufthansa but unfortunately the trip from San Francisco to Frankfurt was operated by United Airlines. Yes they have in-flight movies but no selection. For years I have been expecting a choice of on-demand movies on the seat back in front of you but I guess that United is milking those old 747s without putting any money into them other than cramming more and narrower seats into the same box. So it was the old routine with video screens attached to the roof of the cabin. Of course the seats recline something like 3 degrees so I can’t understand why anyone would grouse about having their knees threatened by someone in front of them trying to get even this small measure of relief. I’ve been flying foreign carries to Bologna for the last 3 years so I was startled that United now charges for everything alcoholic on international flights as well as domestic. And what do you get for you 1/4 bottle of wine on United that costs $8? Something probably more appropriate for killing insects that eating with the lousy meal. At least they match them up – lousy and disgusting. Foreign carriers seem to all provide drinks for  free. It does seem like the least they could do to help ameliorate at least a bit of the discomfort. Certainly the airlines suffered heavy losses after 9/11 but now they seem to be doing alright. If you have any doubts just do a Google search for “airline profitability 2014”. On one of the flights there was a piece in the in flight magazine featuring Orlando Bloom who gushed about how much he likes flying, the longer the distance the better. One can rest assure that Mr. Bloom is not flying coach. The foreign carriers have started charging to make a seat assignment over the last two years. So you want to take a chance on being assigned a middle seat for a 10 hour flight? No problem and no cost. On the other hand if you are larger than the typical middle school student you need to fork over 40 or 50 bucks to avoid one of these circles of hell. You can of course have wi-fi now as long as you want to pay through the nose for it.


One can almost see the future as airlines now promote “economy plus” seating which has a little bit more knee room at a price. Actually this is not a joke. One of the articles I found in my Google search regarding profitability opines that the airlines are deliberately trying to make the experience more unpleasant in order to upsell to a higher cost seat. Perhaps there is a law about providing meals on long flights or else we’d surely be forced to pay for meals even on a 10 hour flight. Just call me cranky. And don’t even get me started on the security screening! Let’s just say that it’s a good thing that the guy with the explosive shoes hadn’t had it in his underwear instead or we’d all be undergoing a strip search before boarding the plane.


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