I love to fly. Well, to be completely honest…I loved to fly at a time long, long ago. A time when air travel was less complicated and SO much more relaxing. Fun even. I preferred to fly because once I got the airport, the stress of our journey evaporated. And if our destination was more than a few hours away, flying was the only option as far as I was concerned.
But no more. Unless our flight time is significantly shorter than our drive time…air travel is not even considered. Once we factor in the drive time to the airport, arriving one to two hours in advance, parking, layovers, the “joys” of getting to the gate, boarding process, in-flight annoyances, baggage claim, and transportation to your final destination…it’s just not worth the effort. Admittedly, some of the items I’ve listed seem petty. But, at best, they can add up to a difficult experience. And, at worst, can result in a very bad experience that can launch a shadow over your entire trip…especially if your journey is compounded with issues at multiple stages of the flight process.
I’m not going to get into all the reasons why things had to change in the airline industry. Or whether flight procedures need to be the way they are now. The rules are set and must be followed. Period. But that doesn’t mean I have to embrace the new complexity without whining and stomping my feet…all while grieving the simplicity of what once was.
Some of the new flight challenges are symptoms of our capitalist society. That “up sell”… “get more of that dollar while you can” mentality pervades so much of our day-to-day lives. I received multiple emails once my ticket was purchased. Offers included from an opportunity to upgrade to first class, an option to purchase preferred boarding, and an offer to apply for a credit card that also provided preferred boarding. Now mind you, I didn’t get just one email for each. No…multiple emails for each…so I wouldn’t miss out.
And then there’s the checked bag fee. I understand fuel is expensive…but so was my ticket. And I understand that I am allowed a single carry-on bag and personal item for free. No matter how carefully I pack (or what I leave behind), I will never get enough clothes and toiletries for a week to fit into a carry-on bag. Especially if I’m traveling to cold climate. And since the airfare is higher for a longer flight, shouldn’t it be safe to assume I would need more clothes? And while I’m on this subject, I would like to rant about the size of the free bags. The maximum dimensions for a carry-on (including handles and wheels) is 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), then why do SO MANY of the carry-on bags look SO MUCH bigger than mine? And then there’s the personal item that is supposed to measure no more than 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm). It’s supposed to be a PERSONAL item…purse, shoulder bag, backpack, laptop bag…you know a small item. The “personal” item slung over your shoulder should NOT BE bigger than your carry-on bag. Could this be why they keep running out of space in the overhead compartments? And if there are rules then why aren’t these oversized carry-on bags required to be checked?
Let’s not forget the overweight fee. I’m tagging along on this trip with my husband who will be working. His first bag is small enough to be a carry-on but weighs almost 50 pounds. In case you were wondering…it’s full of tools he needs to work on corporate jets. He’s an Airframe & Powerplant Mechanic. His second bag has work clothes, work boots, and leisure clothes. It weighed in at 53 pounds…just over the weight limit for a checked bag. So…while standing at the counter at 6:15 am, we transferred two pair of jeans from the bag he will check to my carry-on. Problem solved.
But I have to wonder. The same weight will be on the plane. Does it really matter whether it is in the cargo hold or in the overhead compartment? I’ll leave you to ponder this until we continue our journey at the security check-point.