Fly the Not Free Skies

Airplane movie stillThis was originally posted over at I Fry Mine in Butter.

Once upon a time flying was fun. Planes seemed shiny and glamorous, travelers dressed up, and nobody measured carryon bags with scales. Totally unthinkable were long lines at security and computers sniffing for explosive residue. Mottos like “fly the friendly skies” are long long gone.

It isn’t that I miss airline food, food being a rather broad category when it comes to what was served on airlines. I was one of those folks who chose to bring on his own meals, much like Hannibal lecture, minus the fried human brains. But at least one received a full can of soda. Not anymore. Now I get a plastic cup of semi-fizzy liquid and a piece of the iceberg that sank Titanic.

This is the first flight I’ve been on to offer wifi,and no sooner do 67 stickers adorn the inside and outside of the plane—so the birds can use it, I guess—than they’re charging for it, $13 a flight. That seems a little triskaidekaphilic to me. Why thumb your nose at Lady Luck, airlines?

So it’s one more luxury I won’t be getting, like pay per view on DirecTV or $10 beer in flight. But don’t call it for my convenience, that’s just disingenuous. If it were really for my convenience it would be free or $1. There are 30 rows of seats on this flight; $13 from each of us on multiple flights a day more than buys the modem in what, the first month? I know not everyone will want the service, but surely the price point was set to earn profit.

eastern airline wingsI remember as a kid getting to see the cockpit during flight and I completely understand why that’s not possible anymore. Yet can’t we give kids those stupid plastic wing pins? Those were cool. Kids don’t get crap these days, and it’s sad. Yes, I know times are tough for the airlines. We all cram our bags into the overhead compartments rather than shell out an extra $50 round trip for checking them. And then the air stewards get on the PA system and tell us there’s not enough room in the overheads so we need to be good traveling neighbors and put our smaller carryons under the seat in front of us. I’ve even had a steward hand me my briefcase after I’ve checked my suitcase, and that really got under my skin. If I’ve paid $25 to check the suitcase, I feel like I just paid for leg room, so don’t tell me to cram anything under the seat in front of me.

Also, I don’t get that money back when they lose my bags, which has happened more than a couple of times. It just can’t be that saving 3 ounces of soda per traveler is more important than customers feeling they’re not getting ripped off. I know, I know, I should be happy that I’m flying through the air on a bunch of metal and plastic. I think I just want to feel like I’m being treated a few rungs above chattel.

And yet, there’s that small cup of soda in front of me. I wonder how long I can make it last on this four and a half hour flight.

Oh my God, I think I’ve become a grumpy old man.

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Categories: ponderings


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3 Comments on “Fly the Not Free Skies”

  1. David Gold
    July 22, 2010 at 5:05 am #

    This piece is excellent…and very Rooney-ish.

  2. July 22, 2010 at 6:46 am #

    Over the last 10 years the airlines have made flying completely loathsome to me. They don’t even bother trying to hide how much they’re ripping you off. And yeah, the miracle of flying should be a wonder, but when you remember how much better it used to be, it’s hard to feel grateful that you’re being shuttled across the country so quickly.

    Just wanted to comment to say thanks for expressing my own airborne frustrations so well.

    • evmaroon
      July 22, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

      Glad to do it, Laura! I’m happy for the technology, but sheesh, it really doesn’t feel very nice anymore.

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