As I begin my preparations for my British sabbatical, a couple of things have started to concern me about my impending globe-trotting — and remember, I haven’t flown domestically or internationally for about ten years.
A recent New York Times article [no link, fuck ’em] has pointed out that the root causes of the current woes being experienced by hapless revenue providers (fare-paying passengers, to you and me) lie in two areas: the shift in airline management’s emphasis from passenger comfort / treatment to fiscal measures such as pre-tax profits; and the fact that since 9/11, airline staff can treat passengers like nuisances (at best) or as “security risks” (at worst) without too much repercussion.
The airlines, of course, are bleating that all this is being driven by their soaring costs (despite the massive drop in fuel prices), and that in order to maintain any kind of decent profit margins, they have to “unbundle” features like free baggage, seating choice and comfortable seating and turn said features into revenue lines. Thus, when I went online to pre-book an aisle- or window seat for my trip to Britishland, I was hit with a $15 fee, each way. My checked bag (actually a small trunk — I’m going to be Over There for three seasons and some hunting withal) will also occasion an “oversized bag” fee, despite it being within the size / dimensions criteria posted on their website because, as the reservations clerk informed me, “It’s rigid” (i.e. it can’t be squashed flatter like normal bags and suitcases, something you may want to consider in the future when packing those bottles of wine).
By the way: talking to an actual person as opposed to doing everything electronically also triggers a fee.
Of course, because I’m flying in steerage (okay, “economy”) it means that I’m lower than shark shit shadow on the airline’s list of Necessary Evils, so there may well be a “Get off the plane, asshole!” moment in my future.
I do have a frequent-flier account with this particular airline, and have logged hundreds of flights with them in the past, so one might think that I can escape “Involuntary De-planing” (such a nice euphemism for GTFO, isn’t it?) — but sadly, all those flights took place in the distant past, which means that I’ll probably fall victim to the “But what have you done for us lately?” policy. (And if you think there’s no such policy, please direct me to the place where you bought your unicorn.)
Now there’s talk among the Big Four airlines of charging passengers for carry-on bags, something Spirit Airlines (motto: “We Invented Cheap ‘N Nasty Travel”) — are already doing.
It seems that the only way one can even begin to escape being treated like a dog turd on a tablecloth is to buy more expensive tickets (a.k.a. “added profit for not much more service”) in Business- or First Class.
Great Caesar’s bleeding haemorrhoids… what a lovely prospect.
Please note too that I haven’t mentioned which of these bastard airlines I’ll be using to get to England, because I bet that somewhere in their oh-so-tight budget is a line for “Snooping on passengers’ social media in case they say ugly things about us”. Motherfuckers.
And yes: I haven’t even started talking about having to deal with the TS fucking A, yet.
I need to stop now before I get angry.