Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Ever-changing World of Air Travel

Been spending time in airplanes and airports again. More, it seems, in airports than in airplanes. I think I prefer life on the ground to the thrill of cruising at 30,000 feet. Of course, it may be necessary to go to such lengths - or heights - to get from point A to point B, which is the point of the whole endeavor anyway.

A few observations about the ever-changing world of air travel:

1. High Class

I wrote before about not buying into First Class Mystique. The whole thing with getting to walk across a six-foot-long patch of red carpet, sometimes set apart by a matching velvet rope, still cracks me up.

Also, "priority boarding." Again, I prefer airports over airplanes and am in no rush to maximize my time aboard (unless I need to stash an ambitiously sized carry-on). As long as I've got an aisle seat I'd rather vie for the privilege of getting on last. Though one mustn't make the flight attendants nervous by dawdling, eh?

2. Personal Space

Flying United last week I noticed the extent to which they are pushing "Economy Plus." When you buy your ticket, when you check in, and even when you drop off your bag, you're encouraged to consider making the upgrade. It's also pushed by flight attendants and the in-flight magazine. The marketing campaign now emphasized not just more legroom, but more laptop room. Interesting...

3. BYO Entertainment

Many, many customers these days are sporting not just laptops but also Kindles, Nooks, personal game or movie-watching devices, etc. Some patrons - especially the pint-sized ones - seem unfamiliar with the concept of headphones; they share their music or sound effects with everyone on the plane.

Are the days of (airline-provided) inflight entertainment systems numbered?

4. Staying Afloat - er, Aloft

While complaining about various airlines and travel experiences is a well accepted activity among the jet set, I have to say my sympathy is with the airlines. They may do some dumb or aggravating things but they're also just struggling to keep their companies in the air. Competition is tough and prices have not increased at the same rate as costs. What they save on peanuts and plasticware and make on suitcase fees and seat upgrades can't make that much of a difference. As they say goodbye they usually acknowledge, "We know you have a choice of airlines, and appreciate your business."

>> Fellow travelers, how have you noticed the experience changing?

See also: Greatest Inventions Since the Wheel



Megan Noel said...

i would rather fly virgin and pay $3 for a GIANORMOUS bag of almonds than get a free bag with 3 almonds in it.

Marti said...

Well now, it's true - one's own snacks may be more satisfying than what was once provided, anyhow. But one must put oneself in one's future shoes, when packing. Typically I pack some food with me but end up caving in and buying something else really bad but more comforting than my Zone bars, at an airport en route: a latte, a hotdog, an Egg McMuffin, a turkey-with-cranberry-sauce sandwich...

ZonePerfect said...

Marti, happy to hear you're a ZonePerfect fan! Check us out on Facebook ( for deals, news, pics and more! ~Brittany @ZonePerfect