Air Travel: Mourning the Good Ole’ DaysPosted: November 8, 2008
After the seven years that have elapsed since 9/11, I am finally getting used to all the new ways airports and airlines have found to make air travel suck. And more importantly, I have come to accept that it will never change. It will never go back to the way it used to be.
**Exhibit #1: Stupid Food and Liquid Limits in Security**
I won’t even bother sharing the multitude of anecdotes and logical fallacies with the draconian policies that keep food and beverages from going through security. A search on Google will no doubt reveal a bevy of pissed off bloggers sharing their horror stories.
But even if consumers were able to prove that there was not one reasonable justification for these policies to exist, it will *never* change. Why? Simple: money.
Airports are increasingly businesses first and transportation hubs second. Don’t believe me? Just visit the Oakland airport where they are actually dissembling gates and replacing them with food outlets – yet another victim of the mall-nization of airports across America thanks to the TSA, which has helped orchestrate a brilliant scheme to literally trap thousands of consumers who have no other option but to spend their money at shops that collect airport surcharges and taxes. And increasingly, if these people have any desire to eat at all during their transit time, then they have no choice but to buy food at the airport, because airlines have dramatically cut back on the meals they serve in the air as well.
In this wonderful new world, everyone wins but the consumer. Airlines cut costs by not serving food, and airports, cities and states garner more taxes and surcharges. Meanwhile, consumers are left with literally no healthy or inexpensive alternatives for food for their flight.
**Exhibit #2: Baggage Fees**
When fuel prices began to sky rocket, airlines made a very logical case for charging passengers extra for checking baggage. At the time it seemed reasonable and even mildly democratic because you could still avoid the fees by carrying your baggage on the plane. So consumers accepted it. Then again, what choice did they have? Not fly? Yeah, I don’t think so.
But don’t expect to ever have your bags checked for free ever again, despite fuel prices having dropped below the point they were when airlines first began instituting baggage fees. The increased revenues for airlines have no doubt been enormous, and with a decline in the economy every dollar they earn is, well, another dollar they earn.
What I personally object to is how the baggage fees place an unfair burden and tax on families, who end up having to pay more lugging around car seats, extra luggage for kids and so forth. Why can’t airlines find a way to discriminate against business travelers, people who won’t be paying those fees out of their own pocket, but instead will just expense it to their business? Why not only levy those fees against those who are traveling during the business week that don’t include a weekend stay?
Oh well and tsk tsk. I miss you 2000.