Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

If you – like me – spend a fair amount of time in airplanes, you may find this interesting.  Excerpt:

America’s airlines are suffering from the same problem plaguing Gotham’s mass-transit system — 36,000 feet up in the air, just as three stories underground, sheer numbers of people are overwhelming our travel systems, making everyone miserable. Airlines have encouraged people to fly, and so they do: Last year, 821.8 million people took a flight on a US-flagged airline, a full quarter higher than the number of people who flew in the year 2000. People are flying partly because it’s cheaper: In 2016, the average domestic fare was $347, down from $472 back then (in today’s dollars).

On lots of statistical measures, airlines have gotten better at managing all this traffic. But when they screw up, they screw with more people’s lives, just because of the huge numbers involved.

Last year, for example, airlines bumped six people for every 100,000 passengers, down from 10 in the year 2000. But because there are so many more passengers, these bumpings annoyed 66,600 people, up from 49,300 seventeen years ago.

You can bet those extra 17,300 stranded people didn’t cheer themselves up with statistics as they stayed at the airport Residence Inn trying to scrounge up some food.

The article goes on to suggest some things that the Imperial government and the airlines can do to make flights easier on fliers.  I won’t present the whole list, but there are a few I don’t agree with.  Here are two; first, from the “what the airlines can do” list:

Make it easier to get to the airport.  The article cites Boston’s Big Dig as an example, and having flown in and out of Logan a fair amount over the years I  have to agree that Logan is now much easier to access; but Logan is across the harbor from the city proper, and therefore an unusual case.  My own home airport of Denver is very easy to get in and out of, as it is built on the eastern plans with nothing but prairie around.  These things can be evaluated on a case by case, but it’s not a panacea.  Also this is something municipalities have to do. the airlines can’t rebuild highways or dig tunnels.

Next, from the “what passengers can do” list:

Friendly Skies.

Remember that you get what you pay for.  The article blithely recommends passengers unhappy with ever-shrinking airline seats should shut up and shell out some shekels for an upgraded seat; United, my airline of choice, charges as much as $75 for the slightly roomier Economy Plus seats.  I disagree that passengers should meekly accept being squeezed ever tighter; a little judicious bitching might just reverse this trend.

But here’s one from the “what passengers can do” list that I like, and have been saying myself for years:

Stop bringing all of your earthly belongings with you.  You can always spot the amateur travelers, not least because they are usually struggling into check-in with half a dozen suitcases and the family dog.  But what really burns my bacon is the chap who brings an enormous backpack in and tries to stuff it in the overhead bin, taking up the entire space.  The airlines do provide guides to see if your bag is within the allowable carry-on dimensions, but they rarely bother to enforce these rules; the schmuck with an enormous dog-coffin “carry-on” is all too often allowed to proceed.

Flying is stressful enough as it is.  We shouldn’t have to put up with assholes into the bargain.