Davey Wavey: The Unfriendly Skies
Like many people who travel frequently, I’ve come to dread flying. The thing is, it doesn’t need to be that way. It almost seems like the airlines go out of their way to make the experience as unpleasant as possible.
When my luggage weighed in at 62 pounds—some 12 pounds over the limit—on a recent trip to San Diego, I knew that I was in trouble. I understood that there would be a fee—but I was shocked when the ticketing agent charged me $125 for the bag. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the not-so-distant-future, airlines starts charging overweight passengers a fee for transporting their excess weight. After all, it takes additional jet fuel to transport all that mass.
I understand that airlines are companies and they’re motivated by profits. For them, charging two bucks for earphones or $1 for in-flight TV is a way to expand profit margins. But it leaves passengers feeling nickel and dimed—and it makes the flying experience even less enjoyable.
But my baggage fee was just the tip of the iceberg.
Upon arriving at the gate, I realized that the gate agents were arguing. In front of passengers. As a traveler, you expect a certain degree of professionalism from a company with whom you’re trusting your life. It’s totally unacceptable.
And then there’s the moment when you realize your plane has propellers for engines. It’s 2012. No one wants to feel like they’re flying in an air and space museum exhibit from the 1960s. Though the flight was a short regional connection from Providence to Washington, DC, it was 90 minutes of turbulence, terror and deafening noise. By the time we landed in 25 mile-an-hour winds, I was three shades of green.
On my connecting flight to San Diego, I soon realized that we wouldn’t be receiving meal service. If you wanted a salad or snack pack, you’d have to buy it. It wasn’t a short flight—and the lack of food made everyone just a little more miserable. Most miserable of all, however, were the flight attendants. Without even the slightest smile or friendly banter, they did the bare minimum. Maybe even less.
I don’t mean to paint all flight attendants with the same broad brush. There are friendly, delightful stewards and stewardesses. But, unfortunately, they’re the exception rather than the norm. And, quite frankly, I’d be an irritable flight attendant, too, if I were dealing with unhappy and hungry passengers day in and day out. What came first: The chicken or the egg? Miserable flight attendants or miserable passengers?
And it’s not just a problem with this particular sirline. My friend flew on a different carrier to San Diego, and she had a very similar experience. Instead of helping or assisting passengers, they brushed off requests and even rolled their eyes. I mean, really?
When I fly, I expect to be treated like a human being. Is that really too much to ask?
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