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Why Airline Travel Sucks

An industry insider brashly explains why air travel has gotten so bad. ( More...

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dav555 9
I've said before on these forums that I opted out of flying about 4 years ago and will never fly on another American brand airline again if I can help it. I'm sick of being treated like a criminal by the inept TSA and then being treated like a 3rd class citizen by the airline staff and other passengers. I would gladly pay a premium to fly on a more upscale, but not luxury, airline with more legroom and comfortable seats, friendly staff who treat me with dignity and respect, refreshments and entertainment, etc. For example, if this type of airline existed, I would pay $300 for a flight with them instead of $200 for a flight on one of the existing cattle-car airlines. Perhaps someday an entrepreneur will have the same idea and start up a new airline like this here in the U.S.
Judy Greene 3
I completely agree with you. I have stated the same thing to anyone who will listen for the last 5 years! i WANT to pay more to be treated better!!! Not first-class fare but something that would allow the airlines to still make a profit but give me enough room and respect to continue to fly. I do not believe there are not many, many other travelers who feel the same way. And YES- we need more regulation!
preacher1 2
Several have and they have not lasted long. Not enough people like yourself to foot the bills.
Judy Greene 1
I do not believ this to be true. And if it is to work it would have toe be regulated far more than the industry is currently regulated. The free--for-all system is a complete mess., kinda like expecting 2 year olds to solve their own toy-sharing problem.
Mike Davis 11
If airlines are not making money in the U.S., why did the United CEO who was guilty of crimes, escape with a $21 Million golden parachute, free flying for life and a company car?

If fuel is such a major part of airline cost, why don't we see reduced rates with declining fuel prices?

If weight is such a factor, why are we not charging passengers by weight?

I seldom ever fly any longer. Since retiring, I drive everywhere because I have the time and I'm not subjected to a full cavity body search and radiation when I enter my vehicle, my luggage fits easily in the free space provided, and I get more than stale pretzels for the evening meal.

If the flying public is really, really more interested in price than confort then the average airline passenger must be 4'8" tall. They will have to change a lot of things to lure me back as a customer.
Ed Merriam 4
don't forget the whole "airlines depend on the economy revenue" schtick; what's going on is actually a (very clever) salami tactic to upsell economy plus

(though I haven't noted business class's floorspace growing too much. hm)

what makes people really mad (after the crowding and the "toss my luggage in the first available bin" folks) is being told over and over that we've never had it better and we ought to be on our knees in weeping gratitude: it's a tad North Korean
preacher1 4
Bernie20910 2
Me three.

The wife recently accepted a new job in Anchorage, Alaska and we were getting ready to move there. I was all set to drive my truck and a trailer from Virginia to Anchorage, mostly because I just don't want to fly on any carrier any longer. It's gotten too uncomfortable, too intrusive, too demeaning. I'd rather pay three times as much and take two weeks to get there, than go through another airport screening and have to suffer through another uncomfortable journey stuffed in a metal tube. Unfortunately, my docs nixed the idea of my driving there, so the wife turned down the job.
matt jensen 1
Bernie - that's why there are shipping companies. I loaded one 40ft container in Homestead FLA and had Lynden deliver it to Skagway, AK where I had an overland carrier bring it to me. The whole process took about a month. In the meantime, I had FedEx'd my clothing to the new location. And, I flew Air Canada (1980) home. Back then it was a pleasant flight - no hassles.
Bernie20910 3
Truck had to be driven, could not be shipped due to size and equipment installed. The main point being though, that I'd rather do that than fly. Seriously. Flying stopped being fun for me in the 80's, stopped being enjoyable in the 90's, started becoming annoying after 9/11 and became intolerable in 07 when I busted up my left knee. I don't fit in the seats anymore (I'm 6'2" and 260 lbs, retired from 40+ years of heavy construction and a few other things), even if I could keep the knee bent long enough for a flight, and the utter BS that I'm required to go through to even get on the aircraft is demeaning and insulting. I'm a vet. I volunteered, signed my name on the dotted line and served with honor. To fly now I'm treated like I'm a potential threat to the country I proudly served. As if I'm some kind of traitor, turncoat. It disgusts me.
Dolly Bailey 1
Bernie, I'm with you! My Hubby had hip surgeries, Vietnam Vet, fly often and still has to go through the same crap EVERYTIME he flies! It's ridiculous!
matt jensen 1
Lynden delivered my Unimog 5000 camper unit - 33ft long and 14ft high to same location as the container. It had plenty of goodies inside - the kind I wouldn't trust to anyone exc family. I could have driven it myself, but Lynden does it better and cheaper.

I haven't flown much commercially b/c of the high fares and tsa intrusion. I prefer doing private charters now - from YXY to YCB, YEG, YRT and YRB in the summer and fall.
Bernie20910 1
I shouldn't say "couldn't" be shipped. Anything can be shipped if you're willing and able to pay for it. What the shipping companies I contacted wanted for shipping it was more than I paid for the truck (before the goodies were added), and 4x the cost of me driving it there, including fuel, meals and hotels for two weeks. Besides, it would have let me stop and visit family and friends in Canada along the way. Still sorry we didn't go, but kind of glad we didn't. Surgery scheduled Oct 6th to try and strengthen the knee enough to let me perform physical therapy.
matt jensen 1
Best wishes Bernie
preacher1 1
We'll just pray it's gonna work out.
Fred B Rillo 1 a retired airline manager I can tell you that...

As for the CEO, the airline is only part of the business...he may have many other divisions that are owned by the parent company.

Remember, fuel you fly today may have been purchased months or even years ago... airlines buy in bulk for the future....much like the futures market..they bet that the price will go up or down...some have good luck and buy cheap when the price is headed up and others not so much.

Do you really think charging by weight would work in this country?? Think about that for a few minutes and let me know.

And yes the public is really interested in price first and schedule/frequency second. There are some situations where availability will trump price.. those are rare anymore.
WhiteKnight77 1
With Delta now owning their own refinery, and production running at 110%, they have plenty of fuel. Now they will be affected by crude prices, but those prices have dropped tremendously over the last couple of years, yet paying customers get no breaks. Delta should not have to be buying in bulk compared to other airlines.
preacher1 2
I hate to tell you this but DAL is a for profit company and as long as they are making money, they are not obligated to give you a reduction of any kind. They are in business to make a profit and by that, they keep all they can. That's how business is, yeah it is.
WhiteKnight77 1
I am fully aware of DAL being a for profit company. I also have no issues with a company making a profit, but I do when their customer service is garbage (I live in the Atlanta area where of course Delta has its headquarters) and hear about their complaints as well as have had issues with them before.

They could reduce prices for customers some due to saving money on fuel costs and it would not hurt their bottom line. They make millions from checked bag fees as well as other fees. They are not hurting. As it is, I would rather fly another airline where I do not have to pay for checked baggage. As it is, I avoid Delta. Last time I flew, I went another over-sized airline even if it cost a bit more.
preacher1 1
Well, when enough people, i.e. the market, leaves them for those reasons, them, or any other company will make changes in price, service, or whatever. Until then, I guess it will be as is.
No state subsidy for US airlines - no, but crazy laws that support bankrupt airlines and keep them flying. Land of the free - as long as you're "Merican. Open up the business to worldwide competition and let passengers chose.
VKSheridan 3
I fly all the time so I guess I know what to expect, what I might get and what I must tolerate to get from point A to point B in far fewer hours than on rail or road. Are airlines perfect? Of course not. Do they have their share of self inflicted and externally inflicted problems? You bet but in all fairness, their customers are certainly not free from fault in making the experience dreadful.

There was a day when a simple flight cost three times what it is today on a schedule not very flexible and to locations not very accommodating. Things changed with deregulation not just with the airlines but with the industry and customer base. There are a lot more flights to choose from going to a lot more destinations for a pretty economical price. The trade off is comfort, customer service and amenities. You also get the folks that simply can't grasp the concept that you can't bring a gallon of water on the plane, pass through a metal detector wearing ten pounds of jewelry and wearing boots that take thirty minutes to unlace.

Is it fair and just? Probably not but if you're like me who spends way too much time at airports, you deal with it just like a trucker who has to share the road with drivers who shouldn't own a skateboard, roads that would destroy a Jeep and vehicles that can't hold a lane......

PS - No clue about all the stories of "TSA groping". I cruise though TSA well over 150 times a year and short of waiting for afore mentioned passengers, have never had a problem. Some locations are better than others, some lines painfully longer than others and some agents who seriously need a better outlook on life but it's hardly enough to get a rise over.
laundryczar 3
I understand the economics and the part I have played in the decline by looking for the least expensive fare. I accept my responsibility and the consequences, but....
The fairness issue makes me crazy. I believe in following the rules and I have been dinged for it countless times. I believe the airlines could increase goodwill by actually enforcing their own rules. It would cost nothing and the boarding, loading and in-flight experience would be vastly improved. Maybe charge for carry-on bags instead of checked?
However, most of the problems stem not from economics but from the human behavior. If we made a point of trying to be polite or even just civil to the other travelers and the crew, much of the stress and discomfort would melt away. Smile and greet the crew. Help a fellow passenger lift a bag. Try not to recline too far. Say please and thank you. After all, we are all, crew included, going to endure the flight. Why make it all worse by being a part of the problem?
weecosse 2
The reality is that the real costumers are the shareholders. The travelling public is simply a commodity. It is more important for the airlines to keep their shareholder happy.
alan75035 1
Doesn't take an "expert" to explain, my knees and back are "expert" enough.
Todd Holmes 1
I won't fly between Boston and Washington (and points in between) due to this very issue - unless a day trip. Lots of bottled rage I think on both sides and I don't feel the flight service crew are particularly proud of the services they offer. Understaffed and underpaid crews is my impression and of course I don't see anyone enjoying their flights anymore.
Bernie20910 2
Remember the days when the saying, "Getting there is half the fun" was actually true? TSA and the airlines have eliminated that now, and I wonder if anyone knows how much it's really affected the tourism industry. It's got to have had some negative impact and I wonder why the tourism industry doesn't seem to be putting any pressure on the airlines over it?
Dave Bartell 1
Over the last 20 years, US businesses have pushed we business travellers to coach and have travel booking systems that enforce the cheapest tickets. Also, boarding status has become the only perk (sit in economy + (not much) and get on early enough to get overhead bin space. Having lost status on United (by reducing my utter dependency on them as my only carrier), I now fly the airlines that are most covenient and purchase the seat extras (buy economy + with its boarding preference). International carriers the same. In effect @dav555 you can "pay $300 ... instead of $200. That 33% more is called premium economy (BTW it was $411 on Virgin Atlantic SFO>LHR). Everywhere else I look in life you get more when you pay more. Same game flying.
fitzmiller 1
American could not get us to our destination without a two day delay. Our original flight that caused the rescheduling was delayed, they said, because of weather. The weather was perfect at both ends of the route and other carriers on this route were not having weather delays. So we picked an alternate route, and for the last leg we had to rent vans to drive ourselves to our final destination. American would NOT pay for the rental vans nor refund our tickets.
Like all greedy businesses that abuse the public, the simple truth is that the airlines require supervision.
Fred B Rillo 2
If your plane was coming from a city that had bad weather, how is that American's fault? It may have been nice at your origin and destination at the time you were at the airport... not necessarily so at the origin location for that aircraft though..
Still remember those pleasant flights in the sixties with unique Pan Am.
I avoid travelling like cattle in todays airliners.
katty wompus 1
My dad flew for PanAm back then. It was awesome.
Ken Hardy 1
Glad I don't have to fly anymore unless I want to, I would rather drive 500 miles in my Cadillac SRX with all its electronics, SX radio, stop whenever I want, eat whatever I want than the hassle of the airport, flight schedule and terrible seats
preacher1 0
My little chevy Cobalt does pretty good and I'll bet gets better mileage than your SRX. LOL
Ken Hardy 3
Good, go for it, I will keep the SRX
preacher1 1
I expect that SRX is a tad more comfortable though. LOL
Sorry, don´t get the point of this article. Travellers want to pay less and get less space and service.
And comparing Singapore´s first class with US-carrier´s coach doesn´t make any sense at all. "Virgin Atlantic famously coached its flight attendants to whisper in first class. ... It’s all a far cry from what we have in the U.S., that often frown-filled beverage cart that catches your knee on the way by."
I´ve just flown LHR - LAX on AA´s new 777 business class. Best BC I have experienced this far.
matt jensen 1
For years I flew foreign carriers in CA-SA b/c I wanted free drinks. Even in economy, while US carriers were charging $2 for a coke.
Fred B Rillo 1
Not all carriers were charging for that coke... if you want el cheapo to el paso then you accept that $2 coke.
Dave Canzano -1
Maybe the time for Re-regulation has arrived.
The article is full of the same cliches. All the US carriers receive no subsidies and financial support, have strict laws favouring labour, etc. etc. While even the best run airlines like Singapore Airlines receive all the state support and subsidies which is why they are good. I little to one sided. Will make great reading for Americans who want to remain insulated from the truth.
Fred B Rillo 2
Elaborate please..
weecosse 0
We could turn the airlines over to the Government here in the U.S. and watch the airlines go the way of AMTRAK and the U.S. Postal Service. I suspect that the cost would go up rather than down and service would remain the same, at best.
Totally agree.
WhiteKnight77 0
This is something we have brought on ourselves for the most part. Wanting the cheapest fares we can get, to carry everything with us in the cabin and all the other things we want as passengers has brought less comfort for everyone. While deregulation brought us cheaper fares it brought us the discomfort we now have as well as the nickel and diming we see for everything. That $200 one way ticket with all the amenities such as pillows, food, drinks (soft drinks that is), 4 inches of leg room as well as room to let the person in front of you to recline while you could still work if needed and no checked baggage fees is better than the $25 checked baggage fee, overstuffed overhead compartments, no food or drinks unless you pay for them as well as less leg room has come with those $79 fares.
Ken Land -3
The government is too munch involved in the airline business and you know what happens when liberals try to run things, they screw it all up!
li lili -4
Ric Wernicke 1
usad 2
I don't think anyone understands! :)
weecosse 1
Lucrative activity patterns receipt of goods, Li Lili?


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