I generally avoid bitch posts where the writer just gripes about things. But I've been traveling a whole lot lately, which has put me in the mood to do one. So I present to you, D7's List of Things That Suck About Airline Travel.
- Airplane Prison – I get that a lot of delays are not the fault of the airline. But twice now I've been on a plane stuck on the runway for over 6 hours at DFW due to weather-related delays in take-off. I'm not exaggerating, it is absolutely ridiculous. If a plane is stuck on the tarmac for more than, say, 90 minutes, then suck it up and get the passengers off the damn plane.I know it slows things down when the logjam finally clears, but you need to look at that as a cost of business. Either that, or refund them their money. Because holding your passengers hostage is simply wrong.
- Prison Overcrowding – The airlines have figured out how to squeeze every last penny out of a flight and a huge part of that is making sure every flight is full to capacity. The focus on flight capacity means that all airlines overbook flights as a matter of policy. It makes for uncomfortable flights in the best case, and getting bumped in the worst. And for all tickets sold after capacity is reached, it is by definition selling a product which does not exist. WTF?!
- Carry-On Hoarders – Between carrying on too many bags or way over-sized bags, a lot of people squander a ridiculous amount of overhead bin space. If that space were plentiful I wouldn't care, but it's not. Carry-On Hoarders consume everybody else's carry-on space, making the rest of us subsidize their indulgence. They also slow down load-in/load-out. Fortunately this problem isn't nearly as bad as it used to be though because airlines have gotten a lot more aggressive about making these a-holes check in their bags.
- Checked Baggage Fees – The airlines themselves are responsible for creating a lot of Carry-On Hoarders. Most of them now charge for every checked-in bag instead of bundling one checked bag into the cost of the ticket like they used to. Which leads me to...
- Nickel and Diming Us to Death – I hate the fact that airlines have made every tiny little convenience an exorbitantly priced added cost – checked in bags, a decent seat, a reasonable boarding number. I could get behind that if the base price of tickets were lower, but in my observation they haven't really changed since the airlines started all this paid convenience crap.
- Gate Crowders – This is understandable, but it's still annoying when people start crowding the gate even when their zone number is a long ways from being called. I think people do it because of the Carry-On Hoarders – they're trying to make sure they can get their carry-on luggage into the overhead bins. But it makes load-in take longer and it adds stress to an already stressful situation.
- Dwindling Legroom – Originally I was going to call this one, "Seat Recliners" but they're not really the problem. The seats are made to recline so people reasonably expect to be able to do that. But once again in the airlines' zeal to maximize profits on every flight, they've crammed in too many seats, and the leg room just doesn't support reclining. I'm 6' 2", which is tall but not real tall, and on some airlines if the guy in front of me (frustratingly, it's always a short person) reclines his seat, my knees are jammed into the seat back for the duration of the light. It's extremely uncomfortable and with average person heights increasing, average leg room is going in the wrong direction.
- Smell Baggage – People and their smelly food, cologne, perfume, body odor, farting, whatever. 'Nuff said.
- Bathroom Pigs – Good grief people, have an ounce of personal pride! Pick up after yourself, wipe up the water you've splashed everywhere, and for the love of all that is good in the world, don't pee on the $#@ing floor.
- Rude TSA Pricks – Unlike a lot of people, I'm generally okay with security lines at the airport. I look at it as part of the price I pay to travel safely in the 21st century. But a lot of TSA people have "customer fatigue." Over time, they've developed a contempt for passengers and it shows in the way they speak and interact with us. They're apathetic in the best case or outright hostile in the worst. They speak to you like you're an idiot or a nuisance for them (so, exactly what do you have better to do?). From a customer service standpoint, these people are cancers. They kill the TSA's reputation and they poison the attitudes of other employees to whom they're exposed. That said, the TSA workers who take pride in themselves and the job they do are a joy and they make traveling so much better.
- The Walmart School of Lane Optimization – Like I said, I'm okay with standing in the security line given the worst case alternatives. But I hate it when I'm standing in a really, really long line at security and it's being serviced by one or two lanes while several other lanes stand unused. We pay for those lanes through our taxes! Open them up and have a sense of urgency about your job! If you don't have the staff to do it, then why did you install more lanes than you can actually use? Either stop wasting our money or stop wasting our time; right now you're doing both.