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Thread: Why is Air Travel in the USA going to Hell?

  1. #1

    Why is Air Travel in the USA going to Hell?

    More Delays, Lost Bags for Air Travelers
    Trouble in the air: More passengers were bumped, had flights delayed or had lost luggage last year than in 2005. And expectations are that things are only going to get worse

    I remember traveling by air in the 70s 80s and even up into the 90s when air travel was fun.... BUT NOW!...... Air travel is like hell! Rude airline employees dirty airports, long lines and fellow travelers who, for whatever reason have to ware tank tops and sandels and sit right next to me while sweating profusly.

    Now, fly on an airline from a different country and it is a different story. I flew on the Venezuelan Airline...Areopostal... and the service was outstanding. Nice stewardes's great food on real china, free beer.. all in tourist class. All of the top rated airlines are from other countries besides the USA. Asian countries are the best for service.

    If train service ever becomes a reality here like it is in Asia and Europe I will take a train instead. I sure wish the US would catch up to the multitude of other countries that handle transportation bettter than us.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I heard this report on NPR this morning.
    I'll report back to you all tomorrow as I am flying to Phoenix for the day.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  3. #3
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    This was a number of years back, but when I traveled to Colombia and back, I noticed how different the quality of air travel was. The flight in and back was on Delta flights, but not like a domestic Delta flight. The service was top-notch and the flight attendents provided great service and decent food.

    I seemed to be the only passenger who didn't work in the oil fields. Everyone seemed to know each other, including the flight attendents, and the last half of the flight was like a party.

    The fllights I took inside Colombia were even nicer. The beer was free. The food was good. The flight attendents were young, dark and pretty.

    I cannot help but believe that the reason airline and air travel in the State are so poor is partly because Americans favor thrift over service. The fare battles between the airlines can't help but require things be done on the cheap.

    If I could afford to do so, I would only fly first class. I really do not mind the lousy food service so much. What I hate is business class is so cramped. No leg room. Shoulder to shoulder with the person next to you. Flying anything but first class is just uncomfortable for me.

    Now, of course, I travel with a five-year-old boy and you just cannot get him into the overhead in business class.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    When I went to India in '04 I flew AirFrance but ended up on a codeshare run by Delta for the first leg of the jaunt from Atlanta to Paris-it was better than a domestic Delta flight, but the other three actual AirFrance flights were smashing! Free wine and beer, spectacular food in real people quantities, very friendly hosts/hostesses, free newspapers, in flight activities for my daughter, etc. Kinda made me not want to fly domestically again!
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    my BF and i flew Icelandair to Iceland and on to London a few years ago. we were both thinking NYC to KEF would be a nice international flight, but instead it was one of the worst flights i'd been on. and i hate saying that because i wanted them to be a good airline. mostly it was the drunk and high a@*holes that sat in front of us who kept drinking, popping pills, and smoking in the bathroom that ruined the trip.

    cramped seats, so-so flight attendants, and Shawn made the flight one of most memorable but least enjoyable aspects of the trip.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian southern_yank's avatar
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    You get what you pay for. Would Americans rather pay double current ticket prices for better service? Not only are airline pleasantries disappearing, but pilots and engineers are being stretched thin in the name of cost cutting. There's also the issue of competition; not between air carriers, but between modes. How many people are really up for driving more than 300 miles, especially under time constraints? With public perception of Amtrak less than great, and most long distance train schedules too slow/inconvenient, Americans often only have one option for long distance travel.

    USDOT has designated high speed rail corridors throughout the U.S., but with little Federal money backing the plans up. The plans aren't very ambitious to begin with. A proposed line between DC and Charlotte would average only 87 MPH. Having a comprehensive high speed rail system in the U.S. would offer multiple benefits to cities and travelers, but it would have to be a monumental ($$) Federal undertaking like the Interstate Highway System. Also, some very powerful lobbying groups would have to support the plan, and I'm sure big oil/auto wouldn't be on the list.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    I wouldn't know....

    Sadly, I wouldn't know I've always flown with the dregs of the airline community....Delta, Spirit, Frontier, American, Continental, United, Ted, Song, People's Express, PanAm (Post 1990), Piedmont, US Air, AirTran, ATA and the like.....

    My only foreign airlines have been a segment on Sabina, just before they went bankrupt and Jazz, part of Air Canada. Jazz was a short flight from Vancuver to Kelowna on a prop. and Sabina was on a Delta code share round trip from Denver to London via Brussells for $200 RT!!! So, I've NEVER enjoyed air service and thus wouldn't know what I'm missing. This is the # ONE reason US airlines have gotten off the hook in my opinion....oh and:

    1. Most other national airlines are subsidized up the wazoo because they "represent" the country the fly from.


    I did fly United from DC to Denver once in Business class and while the seat was very nice and roomy, the service wasn't that great and we didn't get a decent meal Luckily, it was a free seat provided by a relative from frequent flyer miles.....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  8. #8
    When I went up to NH this past January, I flew Northwest for the first time. I was delayed out of Louisville because of 3" of snow in Detroit then missed my connector to Manchester. C'mon folks-- it's Michigan in winter -- shouldn't you be prepared for this?

    Flew Pan Am round-trip to London/Brussels right after Lockerbie. Not pleasant to be interrogated by a woman cop with a machine gun pointed just below my belt buckle.

    Flew SAS to Copenhagen in '96. Huge difference in service and comfort. Flew Delta first-class round-trip to Hawaii. That was sweet.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  9. #9
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    This has not been a good year for flying:

    Flew to Pittsburgh in the Fall for a four day trip - Northwest lost our luggage for 3 days and refused to return our calls about their status. This was also after sitting on a United flight for 1.5 hours after which they determined the plane had mechanical problems and couldn't fly. We all got off and I waited in line for 4.5 hours to be rerouted on the northwest flight.

    We flew to California between X-mas and New Year's and a snowstorm canceled flights to Albuquerque for a week and a half. We drove our rental car home instead and still got their days before the next flight arrived.

    I flew to Seattle three months ago and Southwest lost my luggage for two days.

    We flew to New York a few weeks ago and when we got to Chicago Midway, air traffic control told us we had to circle for an hour because of too many planes landing. We did not have enough fuel, so the plane turned around, flew to Indianapolis, landed, refueled, took off, returned to Chicago and circled for another 45 minutes before landing. Needless to say we missed our connection. And this was all before the big storm hit.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  10. #10

    It's like Greyhound in the sky

    Was deregulation the cause of the issue? When did the idea that cheap air travel is a birthright and not a priviledge become the norm? I didn't begin to fly until deregulation was well and truly established. What was it like before that? Did the fare structure promote better staff and manners or is that just a reflection of the general lack everywhere? Goodness knows the airlines have done just as much to put themselves in a pickle as anyone. Their general policy of never coming clean about an delay, whether weather or equipment related makes people angry, and the fact that the fares for flights literally change every hour can make a person nutty. All of the rules and regs they've put into place to penalize the passenger has certainly led to a general crabbiness. I book a fair amount of travel in my job and trying to explain to the person flying about all the little exceptions and ticket fine print is enough to send you screaming out of the room.

    Between the rude and arrogant passengers to the inane regulations governing what you can and cannot bring on a flight (just check your bag, dammit! It's not that big of a deal - then you can take everything you want!) to ill-behaved children, it's gotten horrid. I hold my breath waiting to see a live chicken go flying through the cabin at some point.

    I got stuck next to a woman with 2 small children on a Boston to SFO flight that was just miserable. Poor dears, they were so wound up and overexcited and just could not settle down. Is it a bad idea to spike your kid's juiceboxes with alcohol??? Overseas flights are still seem so much more civilized. Codeshare flights can be a crapshoot. The KLM flight from Boston to Amsterdam is on Northwest equipment and it has the feeling of an extended shuttle flight. Ugh. Both AirFrance and Lufthansa were great, and, big surprise - American Airlines overseas is great! But, that was almost 15 years ago so things may have changed. Although, a return flight from Frankfurt to Boston had a group of Spanish middle school students on their first trip overseas and needless to say it was a madhouse.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Rant on.

    I worked for Southwest Airlines for 9 years. Unless you've been on the airline side, you can't really appreciate the whole story and I don't have time for all of it. First, whatever your memory of the industry was (deregulated or not), forget everything prior to 9/11. The airlines catch all the crap from everything related to every flight. They do not have any control over airport security, especially the TSA. They do not own or operate the airports. They do not control the weather or the FAA flight controllers. But their front desk people and flight crews have to put up with everyone who has been p*ssed off by any of those entities.

    They do have a perishable commodity. That seat you paid for exists only for the period of time that your flight is scheduled. If you cancel your flight at the last minute, it may not be resold in time to ever use it. Empty seats don't generate income. Flights going somewhere are coming from somewhere too and airlines sitting on the ground are saving fuel but not generating income. If your flight is delayed/cancelled, everyone downstream is affected too. We all want to accommodated immediately without any inconvenience to us but don't think about the next person in line.

    Does baggage get misplaced or lost? Sure. Are some airlines and their employees better at handling the public. No doubt. If you want to be pampered, cough up the big bucks and fly a private jet. If you want to pay the lowest fare possible, don't expect champagne and strawberries with cream. But don't blame the airlines for things that they have little or no control over.

    Rant off.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zman on Monday View post
    I'll report back to you all tomorrow as I am flying to Phoenix for the day.
    My flight from Denver to Phoenix and back yesterday went fine. While my Frontier airlines jet was full, the service was just as I expected and decent. It also helps that it was a short flight, but it was exactly what I (or my employer) paid for.

    They even got me to Denver 20 minutes early. I checked no bags.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  13. #13
    Mich_Airport_Planner's avatar
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    Airline transport has become the Greyhound of the sky. Their goal is to get you from A to B and yes, you get what you pay for. Many airlines are struggleing becasue of legacy costs (same thing the auto industry is going through here in Detroit).

    As one who sits in these tin cans at least twice a month and work with those in the industry, I actually get good service most times and never have a problem (although the free first class upgrades to take the edge off it). Plus I live in hub city, which means I rarely connect.

    Delays, lost luggage, and cramped seating come with the territory kids. We want cheap fares- with that you get cheap seats and sub par customer service. Just sit back, plug in your MP3 and don't let it bother you. Until we stop flying and demand better service, you will have to live with it.

    As side note: For those of you who don't travel much, here is a suggestion: READ THE TSA REQUIREMENTS FOR WHAT YOU CAN & CANNOT TAKE THROUGH SECURITY. The requirements might be dumb, but they are law and you are not above it. Every month I get caught behind the arrogant SOB who insitsts their Starbucks Latte' is OK to take through the security checkpoint.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    My favorite airline in the whole world is Midwest Airlines (formerly Midwest Express). It's the only airline that I can get a flight between Baltimore / Washington to Omaha non-stop. Granted, I do have to drive or take the train to National Airport but that's a minor inconvenience for the privilege of a non-stop. The airfare is very affordable at $218RT with advanced notice. Maybe it's because potential Pres. candidate, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) NE, uses the airline as a commuter. (He sat behind me last February, as we were retuning to the Mid-Atlantic.) I'm glad that Midwest's shareholders have spurned AirTran's overtures of a buyout. AirTran would've turned Midwest into a perpetual clusterf**k.

    AirTran once lost my luggage on a nonstop flight between BWI and Ft. Myers. Here's the kicker, my wife received her luggage like normal routine. My luggage was somewhere on Earth. We arrive in Ft. Myers (Naples to be exact) and have no shorts, personal hygeine, etc... I had to borrow some sandals from my soon-to-be FIL, which were to small and some shorts from him, all to small. We promptly made a trip to the outlets in Estero to buy a couple of things, while I waited on my luggage. I didn't get my luggage until 12 midnight that night. AirTran overbooked our flight home, so we got a free trip out of the deal. We used it to got to LA. That was another ordeal.
    Last edited by the north omaha star; 04 Apr 2007 at 3:19 PM.
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    Because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind". --Q-Tip

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