Monday, May 24, 2010

Flying Still Sucks

I am forever amazed at the lack of service and all around 'Happy to serve you!' vibe that infests the airlines today.

I decided to ditch the usual Delta, and try with American and Continental this time. American Airlines took me to Raleigh, North Carolina via Chicago. The seating was still as cramped as Delta, but at least the seats themselves were made of cloth.

Delta not only shoehorns your ass into a teeny,tiny seat. The also make sure that seat is covered with plastic upholstery. Treating you like shit isn't good enough for them, so they add a puddle of butt sweat to your indignity. Can you say "Uncomfortable"?

The return trip was provided by Continental Airlines, via Houston. Full disclosure: my family has an ugly history with Continental, going back to the strikes of 1983-84 when my dad lost his job when a 35% pay cut was being forced on him. Basically, it was union busting move of making them an offer they had to refuse.

Not only were the seats just as tiny (but cloth), the service staff was the rudest I've have ever come across... anywhere.
It was clear from the moment you arrived at the ticket counter that you were not welcome there. But at least they dropped all pretense that a passenger had any dignity to begin with.
Knowing where you stand from the get-go makes the assault easier to accept.

I was wishing Northwest flew to North Carolina. I took Northwest last year to Minneapolis. It was quite nice by comparison. The seats were roomier. Big plus there. And for me, that's about 90% of the whole experience.

Whatever happened to "Fly The Friendly Skies", "The Proud Bird" or "The Only Way To Fly"... company mottos/ad slogans from the good old days when the airlines used to compete for your business?
(Need blanket,sir? How bout a pillow?)

Now it's just "Get in, sit down, and shut the fuck up".

I hate flying.


Vanesa Littlecrow W. said...

Continental is not an airline. It's a fleet projectile garbage cans manned by Oscar the grouch clones.

I used to love flying, but now I'd rather do a train. Traveling via a flying ghetto bus after being patted down for no good reason is not my idea of fun. It's like living in North Minneapolis again.


my name is Amanda said...

I'm sorry you had a crappy flying experience! I've flown about 30 times (approx 5 RTs a year - happens when family and love interest live out of state) and I can no longer distinguish between airlines. There seem to be routes with uncomfortable planes for all of them. I'm general NW (now Delta) was a positive experience...I don't have much experience with Continental. You had to deal with not-nice staff, and at times I have as well, but overall, I honestly think most airline employees are nice! And professional. Flying is high stress, for most people, and I think it would take a steely reserve of politeness and friendliness to deal with that all day. But there's no excuse for bad behavior, especially because it's the travelers who feel vulnerable.

my name is Amanda said...

*Whoops - 30 times in the last 3 yrs - to explain my per year approx note. :)

Jade said...

Ironic (or is it good timing?) that I'm reading this while sitting in the Nashville airport waiting for my Delta flight, having taken American to get here. In fact, the little plane to take me to MN just arrived, and I'm wondering how we're all going to fit.
I know what you mean about space... being 5 feet tall I never thought I'd complain about leg room... but I remember flying back from New York back in 1992 and being able to pull the tray table down and lay forward to sleep. Now, if I do that, I hit my head on the seat in front of me (and I'm not any taller than I was back then) As far as rudeness goes... I haven't noticed anyone being outwardly rude as of yet... but I did overhear one attendant mutter under her breath that dealing with "these boys" was "like dealing with babies" (though to be fair, they were arguing as to whether or not their electronic devices were off... and they weren't. Sorry dudes... power light on, that means the damn thing is on)
So far the Delta people have been good, but I'm not on the plane yet....

Gino said...

vas: garbage cans. thats about right.

amanda: 30? 50? at this point i would think it to be all the same.
but the better experience i had on NW does make me even more eager to get back to MN.

its to the point where the security check is my favorite part of flying.

jade: out of town, again????

Brian said...

When fares were deregulated, airlines lost any reason to compete on the basis of "nice". I'd say that's a pretty fair tradeoff for not needing a second mortgage to fly coast-to-coast (which I've done about a dozen times since December, myself.)

And yeah, if you fly enough, you will have the opportunity to have a bad experience with every airline.

I will say for this for Southwest, though: they don't pretend to be anything other than a budget carrier (i.e., they manage expectations well), they're cheap, and they are on time more than anyone else.

Palm boy said...

I think a lot of this finds its foundations in the TSA that was hoisted upon the airlines and passengers following 9/11.

From the minute you step into the security line, you are viewed as a hostile threat, rather then a fellow passenger. This mentality persists from the screening, to the waiting lobby, to the fellow passengers, to the air crew, and to the desk attendants, ect.

If the bar of respect can be set so low by the government that is by our own hands, why would the airline employees strive to be better?