JAN: Since this is the time EVERYONE goes away, I'm sticking with the travel theme. Yesterday was why we travel. Today is why travel can make us nuts.
And since airline travel is a pretty good punching bag, I decided to focus on that.
I only recently overcame a twenty year plane phobia that made flying torture. I was so grateful to ditch my imagined fears that I never focused on the very real irritations that drive so many other people crazy. But reading Time Magazine's piece: "'20 Reasons to Hate the Airline Industry: or the brief history of the industry's 30 year campaign to nickel-and-dime us nearly to death," I found a new trend in the airline industry that could make me wish I was still too phobic to fly.
The CUT IN LINE FEE.
As I see it, so far the airline industry has only managed to come up with novel fees that make you hate the airline industry. In this latest burst of creativity, they've come up with a new fee that will make you hate the other passengers.
Imagine this: One of those really long lines you find at about six a.m. when you are headed to the Caribbean in the winter. Let's pretend you've been foolish and booked this flight during school vacation week. And let's say, you're re not one of those diligent people who get to the airport two hours early no matter what and are running late. You're three quarters deep into the line and time is running out.
You're tired because its so early, you haven't had your coffee, and you're irritated by hauling too much luggage. Plus, you bought your tickets on a whim and suspect you paid 20 percent more than everyone else. Finally, you move up the line, and with only five minutes left until boarding, it's your turn at the counter. Suddenly, a well-to-do family of six, each with two pieces of luggage and their own scuba equipment, cuts in line and takes your place. You say, "Excuse me, I was next." They completely ignore you, which they are allowed to do because they paid their $30 cut in line fee.
Maybe three other people get to step ahead of you to the open counters. Maybe you find yourself seated in front of one of them when you finally board your airplane. Maybe you ram your seat back as far as it goes and start humming "One Way or Another," by Blondie. Maybe you prefer "My Aim is True" by Elvis Costello. But you get the picture, we're talking about air rage.
My husband tells me that Southwest Airlines has had a version of the cut in line fee for a while, with the ability to "buy up" into the A line. They made the process confusing enough that most other passengers couldn't figure it out.
But I think the cut-in-line fee will surely get people killed in New York. And what's next? The Go-ahead-talk-too-loud-on-your-cell-phone-fee? The-don't-wait-your-turn for the bathroom fee? The drink-too-much and-knock-your-legs-into the nearest passenger fee? The possibilities for rude behavior revenue are endless.
Check out the Time article at:http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2002620_2002604_2002611,00.html
And come back tomorrow when I'll be interviewing Jennifer Delahunty, the dean of admissions of Kenyon College, and author of a new collection of essays about how the college admissions process makes parents crazy.