Monday, December 19, 2005

iRant: the Savagery of Air Travel

I live in the second biggest country on the planet, and between business travel and visiting relatives from coast to coast (which is over 4000 miles!), I end up flying a lot. In fact, I think comfortable and reliable air travel is a necessity in a country like Canada (and many other places), which is why it really bothers me that your average person can't afford to travel with much expectation of comfort or reliability.

I'm 6'2" and 210 lbs, so the cramped spaces between most economy seats force me to wedge my knees into the seat in front of me to "fit" (my recent trip to Toronto where I managed to score a seat in front of an exit row which, just so you know, doesn't recline, with a tiny 16 year old girl in front of me with her seat all the way back, was no exception). I expect the situation is similar for many people, which is why we all look so yearningly at the spacious reclining seats as we are marched past Business Class.

Increasingly, we are forced to pay for food, drink, seat selection, even pillows. This would be fine except for the fact that it doesn't seem to have affected prices in a particularly advantageous way and has only made the experience of flying worse. Plus, many flights have a food selection that seems culled from the shelves of a meagerly stocked convenience store (with the prices considerably inflated). Even the in-flight entertainment leaves something to be desired, with the same movies played in too great frequency for the frequent traveller, "edited for flight" versions of films, and the typical technical difficulties (thankfully there is some movement towards individual entertainment systems for us po' folk too).

On top of all this, given that we can launch spacecraft to the outer edges of our solar system, why can't planes (with a few exceptions) seem to depart or arrive as scheduled? I know there are a lot of variables: multiple aircraft from different airlines, changes in weather, a host of interwoven routes, etc., but surely we can do better than the current norm (don't even get me started on luggage). I also find that the level of redundancy in security is getting a little ridiculous - exactly how many people do I have to show my passport and ticket to? If security were done properly in the first place then you'd think that it wouldn't have to be repeated so many times.

Maybe it's just that it's very difficult to make enough money through private airlines and airports, but the Canadian government has subsidized Air Canada (one of our major airlines) for years with no positive results (their informal slogan is rumoured to be: "We're not happy until you're not happy"). With the incredible technological developments we have in our grasp, it is simply disappointing that airline travel, a required means of transportation in a global community, is only really "civilized" for those who can afford to pay a hefty first class premium (which can also allow you to jump the line for that annoying security in some airports!).

In closing: How is a man supposed to use carry-on for a business trip without bringing a blade for his razor? I'm willing to bet that a nice sharp pencil through the jugular would be a lot more effective than one of the tiny blades in my shaving gear for those of nefarious intent.
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12/19/2005 10:01:00 PM  

2 Comments:

Anonymous John said...

and nail clippers… you certainly don't hear of a lot of nail clipper pinch deaths on planes since the clamp down.

December 20, 2005 7:35 AM  
Blogger M-Fax said...

I agree with all of that......6'5 and Canjet.....gives me shivers thinking about it.

I would also add that male flight attendants (women for that matter) with shoulders wider than the aisle should not be serving drinks.

December 20, 2005 10:55 AM  

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