Can air travel be more demeaning?

The first airplane I remember being on was a Wardair flight. I was in awe of air travel overall, and overjoyed when the flight attendant brought my sister and I champagne flutes of orange juice mixed with ginger ale to mimic our parents’ mimosas. That experience was in stark contrast to my most recent flights and I am left wondering if air travel can debase us further.

It seems the only people still being treated like people on most airlines are those flying first class. Everyone else is chattel and it has become almost common place to feel like you’re being admitted to prison when going through customs and ushered to your seat on the airplane.

It starts with greeting you receive at the ticket counter. Big spenders get bigger smiles and more friendly banter. Then the next wallop is when you are charged for having packed a bag. Really? This is bound to cause fights for the frugal family as the woman’s shoe allotment is going to be sharply curtailed. One checked bag should be included in the base fare.

It blows my mind, that we are being nickeled and dimed on everything now as well. Remember when you didn’t have to pay for extra legroom because everyone automatically got it? Remember getting snacks and meals included on flights? Remember when movies were free to watch (and you weren’t forced to sit through ten minutes of advertising before seeing them)?

Remember when you selected your seat when you booked and it didn’t cost anything extra? Remember when utensils were metal and glasses were glass? Remember booking a flight on points and not having to pay hundreds of dollars for taxes and levies? Remember when the airline didn’t try to sell you their credit card on flights?

It’s becoming one of those “you know you’re old when you remember…” games.

The new fees, levies, taxes, and cutbacks on services are just part of the ‘fun’ of flying now. I find taking my shoes and belt off at the airport very intrusive. (Luckily my pants aren’t hanging precariously on my butt and the removal of my belt would cause a wardrobe malfunction). I suppose I should be happy that they don’t confiscate my shoelaces on the way in.

Once you eventually get into the airplane, I’m also left shaking my head when the flight attendant insists on seeing my boarding pass again. Surely I can be trusted by the warden to actually sit in my allocated cell…I mean seat.

The extra fees on checked baggage reward people for bringing on two (or more) carry-on bags. This makes already cramped legroom even worse as you can’t even stretch your feet out under the seat. I am lucky enough to typically be seated next to the woman that has a full-size carry-on, and a purse that is larger than Prince Edward Island, and a large jacket, and a shopping bag (that probably houses her kitchen sink).

What’s next? What else can the airline charge for?

I hesitate to speculate as I would hate to be the one that gave them any ideas. Will we be charged for bathroom access? Will we be somehow charged for a mask with fresh non-recirculated air? Will we be forced to step on a scale and be weighed in the terminal and charged according to weight? Will the length of flight required to get a free meal start rivalling guidelines in the Geneva Convention?

Every time I think they’ve the hit rock bottom of service offerings it seems they surprise me with another cut. When will the degradation end?

I try to keep my sense of wonder at travelling in a recliner in the sky. Air travel opens up the world to people and opens up peoples’ minds to the world. It is a privilege and wonder that should be celebrated!

With that in mind I still order an orange juice with half ginger ale on every flight, but of course, for the majority of the airlines it is served to me now in a plastic cup. I truly hope that airlines will stop doing their best to quash the joy out of the experience.

 

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