Monday, August 4, 2008

Brotherhood of the Traveling Rants

Theoretically, I would like to travel. I've been up and down the coast, and to Texas a couple of times, and Canada, but I've never really travelled anywhere exotic. Flying isn't really my thing, either. It's funny, but before I ever flew I thought I'd be all white-knuckled . . . turns out, I wasn't. Takeoffs and landings still make me a bit jittery, and I've experienced turbulence so severe I thought I injured my tailbone, but I can deal with flying. Problem is . . . who wants to fly anymore?

JetBlue is going to charge for a pillow and blanket, and U.S. Airways is going to charge, I shit you not, for water. Charging a captive audience for water seems a bit like extortion, doesn't it? I can almost hear the announcement now:

"This is the Captain speaking. You may have noticed that we've been idling on the tarmac for a while now. The tower has informed us that we should be airborne within the hour. We do apologize for the delay, and will be sending back the flight attendants with the beverage cart in case you desire any refreshments. I can see the heat coming off the tarmac in waves from here, and it's sure making me thirsty!"
I know it's all about "perceived value" in the marketplace, but how much smarter of an idea would it be to raise the fares on the flights instead, so that the costs borne by the consumer are known up front, rather than nickel-and-diming us (dime-ing?) to death along the way. Extra bag? $25. Fat ass? You're paying for two seats, sister! Pillow and blanket? $7. Water? $2. (And you can't carry it from the counter onto the plane, either. Throw it out going through security, then buy another one for another $2 where you'll actually get to sit and wait for the plane.)

These airlines have travellers by the balls and they know it. I mean, what else are you going to do? Take a bus? Beside the fact that there are no buses that go to Hawaii, there's the security situation that's just a wee bit more lax than at the airports:

Li allegedly stabbed McLean several dozen times as others fled the bus,
witnesses said. He then severed McLean's head, displayed it to the frightened
passengers gathered outside the bus and began hacking at the body. A police
officer at the scene reported seeing the attacker hacking off pieces of the
victim's body and eating them, according to a police tape leaked on the

Geez, they left out the part about him smiling with glee and gargling blood *shudder*. . . Creepy. I guess that leaves busses out, doesn't it?*

And it's not just Canada that's in the beheading business these days. I mean, the middle-east was out of the picture anyway, but maybe we could see the Parthenon . . .
A Greek man is in a critical condition after decapitating his girlfriend with a cleaver and parading her head around the tourist island of Santorini yesterday.
Athanassios Arvanitis, 31, is also accused of beheading the woman's dog before roaming around the village of Vourvoulos with his 25 year-old girlfriend's head.
How rude. What is with all the chopping off of heads lately? That's it. I'm staying home for vacation this year. (I refuse to use that stupid made-up word that's trying to force its way into the vernacular. Like "Orientated" is doing. The word is "oriented," I don't care what says. I turned and oriented myself ninety degrees to the left. See? Oriented.)


*(BTW, poor taste in the naming of that last article linked. I'd say anyone with the tenacity to saw someone else's head off with a hunting knife is a bit more than "hardworking." How about, "insane, yet earnest?")


John said...

I try to avoid U.S. based carriers whenever possible. Sometimes I have to do an international flight on United because it has more direct routing.

But generally speaking, foreign airlines have much better service. If you've never been on a good world-class airline like ANA or Qantas, you should give it a try. You'd be surprised at just how crappy our aviation industry has become. It's nice to have free slippers, free blankets, free alcohol with a real meal (no goddamn three day old sandwiches), complimentary newspapers, coffee on demand, and individual movie screens.

David said...

I too would much rather the airlines just raise their fares and get it over with. I think that they are too scared that if they do that, less people are going to want to fly which would cause them to go out of business. The trouble is that when traveling by air is such a hassle it's an even more of a turn off.

Personally, I think road trips are much more fun. If I had the time, I'd do it for pretty much anywhere in the lower 48.