It does seem a bit strange that a government so obsessed with our personal safety that they require child-proof caps on meds and seat belts in all manner of transport is willing to let the airlines pack us into aircraft and hurtle us through the skies like so much expedited cargo. At what point does the issue become not just comfort, but safety? Maintaining calm is tough enough in an emergency no matter how well situated we are, but in a crammed, movement-constricting space? Doesn’t feel all that safe to me.
The airlines have forgotten they’re a service industry. Service is their “product,” so to speak—and for many years service was what they provided. You purchased a ticket and knew before you clicked off (or before you hung up in the early days) exactly what you were getting. Checked luggage was a given, your preference in seating assured if you reserved early enough, a meal (such as it was) provided if the flight exceeded a certain length, a boarding pass printed at the airport, a reasonable amount of legroom.
The way they operate now, it’s sort of like buying a car and having the salesman ask you “Oh, say, did you want a trunk with that? … Yes? … Well, that’ll be another $500.”
First we heard stories about berserk flight attendants, then passengers resorting to self-protection with the infamous knee defenders, followed by skirmishes over the god-given right to tilt. It’s no wonder the attendants are so stressed. The job that used to revolve around serving meals and warming baby bottles now requires the muscles of a weight lifter to help us load those hefty bags into the overhead and the skills of a hostage negotiator to prevent the outbreak of fisticuffs.
Gone are the days when, delayed by a late flight into L.A. and resigned to missing our connecting flight, we were greeted upon deplaning by an airline employee holding a sign bearing our name and waiting to escort us to our departing flight, held just for us! Talk about feeling important! Ah, yesteryear!