Sunday, May 3, 2009

Air Travel Fun!

Under normal circumstances, I love to travel. I yearn for visiting new places, meeting new people, and experiencing new things. If enough time passes, I even like revisiting places I enjoyed and looking for what I have missed.

Let's not forget the people. I so like some people, and have so little use for others. The "little use" group grows by leaps and bounds, but, the other group, the ones I like, that group grows as well, though much more slowly. Sometimes, the people I like can take me back to places I really have no other interest in. This happens very often.

All that said, there are some things about travel today that make it so much more less enjoyable.

First, "TSA" is a huge part of what is wrong with travel today. Requirements are inconsistent between sites, even for sites within the same airports. There is far too much latitude and inference afforded to the TSA agents. This portion of the John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton (Lord Acton) quote, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" comes to mind. When people who have not been prepared to handle power have it handed to them, results tend to vary. Police officers and prison guards undergo a much more intense screening process and some of these individuals who cannot handle it still seem to get through and cannot cope. TSA's screening process is not as near thorough. Some of them seem to have little else to do than "spin-up" at the slightest sign of anything they do not not understand. Others have decided they are now the software police, or an extension of the DEA. Watching them "spin-up" like giddy school girls at the thought of flexing those authoritative muscles is, well, disheartening. We won't even go into the range of individuals working for TSA. The entire TSA structure and guidelines needs revamped.

My second issue with travel now is with the airlines. Baggage Charges. Far less personal service. They no longer issue your boarding passes for other airlines when your trip requires some code sharing, so if there is any issue with advanced check-in online, you may lose your seat if the first flight is delayed. Certainly, some are better than others but if an airline was to charge me $20 to $50.00 more for the ticket, but not charge me for the added services, they'd have a loyal customer. This nickel and dime garbage for "incidentals" is completely out of hand. Charging for meals, each piece of your baggage, etc. By the time you've paid for the meal and 2 bags roundtrip, you've added $100 to the cost of flying. is the $12,000 to $15,000 or so more money they take in, or lose for passengers that don't use the services really that big an issue financially? This cannot be much over 5% of their gross income for a full flight. Alaskal Airlines rocks with the baggage thing at least. No charge for the first one and they like their loyal passengers. Sometimes, they don't charge for any bags. Nice!!!!

Finally, the airports themselves. I understand I am no longer the spry lad I once was. But come one Chicago O'Hare? Gimmie a friggin' break here!!
  • Signs pointing the wrong directions to get to the other terminals? No, really, they do, or they take you outside security. (Ever seen one of those boarding passes they give you for chnaging planes inside, but labeled No Good for security? Good luck with that one Ralph!)
  • No internal mass transit between terminals?
Now, I did eventually get where I need to go, but thank you for a 4 hour layover. Had it been much tighter, I would have never made it. I did notice, as a major hub, their internal signs and transit SUCK! for short layovers when you change arilines. If you're actually coming from or going to the airport, getting around is much easier.

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