HALLIE EPHRON: Today it’s my turn to rant. On flying. As expensive as it is, it should be a much better experience. Since I bit the bullet and got screened for TSA pre-check, at least getting through security is a breeze.
However, from then on flying has become a nasty, unpleasant, uncomfortable, and costly chore. Let me count the ways.
1. BOOKING SEATLESS
You can book and pay online way in advance, but on United (and others?) these days you can’t pick your seat until you check in (or pay extra). Apparently $400 dollars for a two-hour flight entitles you to steerage.
2. BOARDING BAGLESS
Then there’s the staff ON the plane that doesn’t talk to the gate staff. So (without warning) by the time you get on the plane there’s no overhead space and thirty bags have to be taken off by a ground staff who are angry and grumbling to passengers who are hoping their bags won’t get deep-sixed.
3. SEATING SQUISHED CHILLED
The seats are so narrow, even those of us who are slim-ish can’t fit our arms within the armrests. And there’s so little room between you and the seat in front of you that you can’t bend forward far enough to corral your shoes which you’ve slipped off but now need to slip back on since it’s frigid on the plane. I’ve started bringing a blanket. Then there are the broken seats that won’t lock in the “full upright position” -- seems like I’m in or behind one on every leg. Makes you wonder what else on the plane is broken.
4. SITTING FACING THE TOILET
Then there’s the plane that has a toilet (TOILET!) in the middle (MIDDLE!) of the plane. Whose great idea is that?
5. SNACKING ON What is this?
Oh, they’re back to giving out “snacks on some airlines.” Here’s the entire contents of United's package of CRUNCHY SNACK MIX. I put the penny in it to show you how generous it is. Hmmm. Apparently it’s gluten-free and peanut-free, but what on earth is it? The ingredients list has more items than the snack pack has pieces. Seriously, this is pathetic.
Speaking of UNITED, in my experience they are the worst offender on all counts. On Delta and JetBlue, at least the snacks are recognizable as food rather than kibble. And on Southwest they have a sense of humor.
Bright spots: If you can, fly through Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport and for a laugh visit the Recombulation Area just inside TSA. And if you're in the airport and find a Vino Volo, treat yourself to a wine flight and a lovely board of smoked salmon.
TIP: If you must fly, use SEATGURU, a web site that shows you the seat map for the flight you’re booking and flags the lousy seats that should be avoided. That’s if you can pick your seat.
MAKING THE BEST OF IT: Finally, be kind to your fellow travelers (maybe not the one with the fake service dog, or the one who’s taken up half of a overhead bin with his coat, or the one sitting next to you who eats a banana and leaves the peel moldering on his tray for the entire flight…) who are feeling as pissy as you are, and who can blame them?
Share your rants an raves about flying. Are any of the airlines doing something right these days?