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The Flying Nightmare

By Avi Gutfreund. Let’s face it: nobody likes flying. From the moment you step into the airport, to the minute you reach your destination (and sometimes beyond that), we’re treated like cattle, subjected to mindless searches, endless waits, and often rude airline staff. This is all besides the subtle degradation of being treated as steerage passengers, being provided just the most basic amenities. And by amenities I mean a seat to sit on, and even that, barely. Want room for your legs? Pay up. Want a pillow to rest your head upon? That’ll cost ya. Have luggage larger than a cereal box? Have your credit card ready. Oh, and by the way, we lost your luggage on the way here. Have a great day! And all this if things went well. They often don’t. Ridiculous airline policies, impossibly lengthy wait times, missed connections, etc. etc., all make the flying experience generally dreadful. Yet while surveys show that Americans believe airline travel is getting worse, overall flight cancellations and complaints received by airlines and consumer watchdog agencies are way down. It seems contradictory, but the explanation is really quite simple.

The reason airlines get away with these awful behaviors is twofold. For one, people simply don’t have a choice. If you need to get from New Jersey to Los Angeles or Chicago, or anywhere further than a 4 hour drive, you’re going to take a plane. With competition among airlines being essentially non-existent, airlines can run free with abusive attitudes and policies, knowing you simply don’t have any alternative. Secondly, the stories of passengers being treated as prisoners rather than consumers has become so commonplace, that we’ve become numb to it. Had your luggage rifled through and left in a mess, with your grandmother’s earrings missing and your suitcase zipper broken and missing a wheel? Well, just be thankful you still have a suitcase. This attitude is pretty much necessary to simply be mentally able to book yourself a ticket for a plane ride.

Imagine a grocery store treating you with half the disrespect and contempt that the majority of airlines show for their patrons. The grocery would obviously never get another customer through the doors. Yet, for the reasons outlined above, airlines continue acting with impunity. The madness must stop.

It’s time a set of rules were laid out specifically to force airlines to treat their passengers with dignity and respect. Think of it as a consumer’s personal Bill of Rights. If you bought a ticket on a flight, you should be guaranteed a seat. If your luggage is lost or damaged, the airline must pay for it, along with a fine on top of that. There are various other rules and regulations which should be included in this ‘Bill of Rights’, but they are simply too voluminous for this article.

Congress recently passed the FAA Reauthorization Act which sets minimum standards for the amount of legroom passengers are legally entitled to on an airplane, as well as barring airlines from bumping passengers that have already boarded their flight. It’s a nice start, but far more has to he done to alleviate the misery of air travel.

With nearly 50% of Americans flying each year, it is shocking that Congress or the federal consumer watchdog agency has yet to make more significant changes to the laws that govern airlines. We should be knocking down the doors of our lawmakers, demanding they enforce real, meaningful change.

Until then, we will continue to be subjected to callousness and outright insulting attitudes by friendly, smiling airline staff. Or you can simply take out a second mortgage and fly first class.

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There are 10 Comments to "The Flying Nightmare"

  • The solution says:

    Flying cars!

  • Amil Zola says:

    S1418 was introduced in 2017 and sent back to committee. This is available online and is commonly known as the Airline Passengers Bill of Rights. Take a read and see what you think about the protections it offers you as a consumer. If you agree call your electeds tell them you want this bill to move forward.

  • Jack says:

    Not sure, never had these issues and never flew first class. Act nice and you will be treated nicely. I was always treated respectfully. I left my custom made suit on a flight a few months ago and the airline found it and held until the next morning for when I returned to the office. Let’s talk about traffic in Lakewood.

  • Southwest Fan! says:

    This is why we love flying Southwest!
    Free bags
    Free drinks
    Pretty smooth loading and unloading and extrwmely positive attitude!

    This is not a paid advertisement!

    That said… I wish Southwest owned their own TSA agents…. havent had too many positive interactions theough any TSA in any airport.

  • Ridiculous says:

    This is a load of ridiculous hogwash, that is fed to you by media. Do you fly at all?? I fly weekly for work, mostly on United, and a fair share of American Airlines as well. As a rule my flights are generally on time and even when delayed after all is said and done it usually is not more than an hour and almost never had an issue with any attendants. As long as you treat them nicely, they will treat you nicely. Same like anywhere else. Now of course if you assume as if they are your slaves and servants, which unfortunately I’ve seen too many people do, they are going to act in return

  • My Take says:

    I can’t say I’m a very frequent flyer, but I do travel at least once a year to E”Y and on the whole it’s not so terrible. I find that El Al has the squishiest seats, so I try not to fly with them. TSA people are mostly unfriendly with no sense of humor, but usually airline staff are nice and I never had luggage lost. My flights usually arrived on time even if if they sometimes had to leave a little late. I personally think the so called security isn’t worth all that much. In E”Y they don’t check so much and their security is supposed to be better than in the U.S.

  • Harley Kesselman says:

    LOL. You are brainwashed. More regulations would equal much higher fares than what you’re paying today. And much of what you say like damaged or lost bags, or if they bump you, Airlines have to pay you for already. I fly at least twice a month and those are the best days as I get to relax in the sky. Government “doing something” is rarely an answer.

  • Frequent flyer says:

    Please stop listening to the liberal media. I fly on a weekly basis sometimes as many as 4 flights a week and I never had a issue with the airline or staff (united, delta, american). TSA agents are usually not very friendly but they’re not in the customer service business they’re there for our safety and security.

  • Let's get real. says:

    I fly 6-10 times per month. What you are describing is ignorance it’s far from the reality. True some of the pointers you mentioned can happen, but you present it as if the norm.
    Also, as a side note – cost of flying is cheaper than its ever been.

  • Miriam says:

    While traveling in the US 10 yrs ago, I approached an empty checkpoint in an airport that had a lot of rope to accommodate a long line. Since it was deserted, I ducked under the rope as a shortcut to get to the front. A guard saw me, made me feel like I was doing something terribly wrong & forced me to turn around & walk through the entire empty roped line. I thought making me do that was pretty ridiculous & served no purpose…

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