Has Anyone Else Noticed…

If you’ve read my blog regularly so far, you know by now that I travel for the Army quite a lot.  More than Di prefers.  More than I prefer at this point – the charm has completely worn off the novelty of going somewhere I’ve never been before.  The saving grace is my buddy Fred, who never seems to tire of the fly-here, fly-there activity.  Of course, Fred doesn’t have to tote the luggage.  And he gets away with not wearing pants.

Anyway, it occurred to me today somewhere over western Kansas that air travel has changed.  Funny thing is, I think we’re all getting screwed.  First up in the Rant Parade here is the notion that you now have to pay for checking a bag.  Now, personally as an Army traveller I’m exempt from checked bag fees – win.  However, like everyone else suffering on the airplane, I feel the secondary effects.  Namely, everyone now crams all their stuff into the tiny littly rolly suitcases and claims them as a carry on. 

While I can’t blame folks for being cheap (that’d be pretty hypocritical of me), a lot of my fellow cheapies fail to correctly pick a suitcaselet that is actually carry-on size.  After the first twenty passengers board, the overheads are all completely taken.  Even worse, they’ve packed so much stuff into the mini-luggage that it’s density (and, as you physics gurus know, it’s weight) approaches that of Uranium.  Some more physics: the plane actually flies more normally if the luggage weight is consolidated in the belly, not in two long overhead bin stripes.

Most of this pain I avoid because my backpack fits under the seat in front of me.  What really chaps me raw is thinking of all the baggage fees airlines charge, claiming they can’t cover fuel costs and profit from a flight anymore.  Now, keep that thought in mind a moment while I transition to Rant Number Two.

Two years back, doing this same Roaming Gnome job, it was a rare occurrence that any given airplane would be completely full.  I often enjoyed “spreading out” into an empty seat next to me.  Since last August, I have been on 14 Army trips and have enjoyed ONE instance of an empty seat next to me.  Apparently the airlines are much better now at filling their seats. 

But wait!  The economy sucks!  Nobody can afford to travel!  How, then, are all the flights topped off with humans?  How come the airlines couldn’t work whatever magic fills every nook and cranny now back just a couple of years ago?  Now recall we’re being charged for that baggage, because “they can’t turn a profit” from the flights scheduled otherwise.  WTF?

Finally, I’d like to thank whatever evil gremlin in the booking system manages to put me next to the biggest, sweatiest, corn-fed hoss there is on my flight.  That is just wonderful.

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