Three things that puzzle me about air travel today

Traveling by air can be a frustrating and confusing experience for all.
Airplanes at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey
Airplanes at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey / Gary Hershorn/GettyImages

Airline travel used to be glamorous and exciting. It was something special. And you were treated like YOU were someone special. Now, airline travel is anything but spectacular and has become somewhat painful to endure.

And you have to wonder how it got to this point…and how airline travel can bring out the worst in people. Each time I fly the same thoughts run through my head, I witness the sheer craziness of passengers, and I am puzzled by the same things every time.

Tickets…the cost of the tickets…what are you paying for?

What do you actually get for the cost of an airline ticket? It appears that purchasing a “ticket” is completely separate from purchasing a “seat” as they are two separate purchases as a part of your package.

When you scour the internet for the prices of airline tickets what you are seeing is just that, the price of a ticket. That ticket you purchase then gives you the privilege of choosing, I mean, the privilege of paying for a seat.

The price of a seat is the next charge. And the prices of those seats vary by…um…uh…in reality…there is no rhyme or reason as to why certain seats are more highly-priced than others. Oh, they’ll tell you that certain seats are of more value, that they have more legroom. How much more legroom? What is this like a 50-50 raffle? You’re paying money for a certain amount of inches? An arm’s length? A toe’s length? Come on, it’s absurd. Wherever you are your personal space will be invaded by the stranger next to you.

I can understand that first class, and business class, are both more expensive. I don’t understand the perks, except for first class where the seats are much wider and you have a lot more personal space for you to claim. But the rest, t’s all the same - sardine can seating.

Airline travel has become completely a la carte. You pay for the ticket, you pay for a seat, and you pay for your luggage. Everything is an additional charge.

Speaking of a la carte, the laughable part is the “in-flight meal.” What meal? It’s a small bag of whatever that feels like it was leftover from last Halloween that didn’t make it into some trick-or-treater’s bag. What am I doing with that?

The boarding process is simply absurd

I don’t understand the boarding process at all. I don’t understand what is the big rush to get on that plane. I know that I want to wait to get on until the very last minute before squeezing my way into that sardine can for hours.

And the groups, what is the purpose of putting people in groups and telling them to get in line? And why are they getting in line before they are even called? Seating is not on a first-come, first-served basis.

The majority of the time, it appears that airplanes are boarded from a hatch near the front end of the plane. So…in the interest of pure logic, why not board the plane beginning from the last row and moving toward the first row?

Oh…I get it. First-class, business class, those elite passengers should get the privilege of priority boarding and getting settled in their seats. And I don’t even understand why they would want that, just to have those “other” people slink past them with carry-ons, backpacks, shopping bags, etc. bumping into them along the way to the peasants’ area of the plane.

But the boarding groups don’t make sense and the order of boarding makes even less sense, if that is even possible. Apparently, people are rewarded for flying more than the other people and are put into the first couple of groups and pretty much chosen randomly. So, in essence, there are people from all over the plane, trying to get down the aisle, but pretty much being blocked by those who are IN the aisle and putting things in the overhead, wiping down their seats, getting themselves settled, and backing up the process.

Then those same people in a rush to be the first ones on, are jumping out of their seats before the plane is actually set at the gate, to be the first ones off. Go figure.

It all makes absolutely no sense and is, at times, infuriating. Why wouldn’t it be structured just like you would in any organized setting where people are seated in rows, like at a graduation, for instance? Board in order of seat assignments. Start at the back. And work your way up to the front. In order. If a person is late and missed the boarding call, then let them wait until everyone else has boarded. Wouldn’t that be more effective and efficient to speed up the process and have a lot less frustration and contentiousness about having that rush to board?

Why are people rushing to get on the plane? Well, that brings us to No. 3.

That overhead compartment…I bet the airlines are having a real good time with that one

There is a reason for all the madness to rush on to an airplane. And it was created by the airlines themselves.

First of all, who designed the overhead compartments on airplanes? I always believed that there were highly skilled aeronautics engineers involved in the design of planes. So why is it that, if the premise is for every passenger to bring one “carry-on” that is to be placed in the overhead compartments, then why is there not enough room for everyone to, in fact, place a carry-on in a compartment over their respective heads?

Well, I have seen people not wanting to pay a fee to check their luggage placing not just a carry-on bag in the overhead, but also a personal item like a backpack, a heavy winter coat, and a shopping bag of whatever crap may have been in there. So, in essence, passengers, the first few to board, take up all of the room before everyone else can get on board that aircraft.

So whose fault is that – the engineers who designed the plane, the marketing and sales team, the top executives trying to squeeze every penny out of customers? Who’s responsible?

The airlines, as stated previously, as a part of their “add ons” charge for luggage. And that is understandable. Every passenger should be entitled to one piece of luggage as a part of the cost of their ticket. But while that used to be the case (not suitcase) years ago, it’s not now. The airlines have established price guidelines for everything…including checked luggage and the weight of that luggage. (An airplane is limited to the weight it can carry.)

So passengers are trying to circumvent the added cost of luggage so they find ways to bring everything they own ON THE PLANE. Well, that means that everything they own must go somewhere. And that somewhere is in the overhead compartment. But there is never enough space to put even ONE carry-on bag for each seated passenger. So when people sneak on board all kinds of things on and around their bodies, and then stick them in the overhead when they get on the plane, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or, in this case, an aerospace engineer to figure out that the plane will run out of room very quickly.

And I run out of patience every so quickly. Why do I even bother?