Airline Travel: Passengers Treated Like Manure


This is Robin Hayes CEO of JetBlue Airlines.  He is seated one JetBlue’s newest plane the Airbus A321.  This picture is in current USA Today (6/29/2015) and I noticed the arm rest is up in the picture.

Mr Hayes, seems like an average size man. Yet in the seat, he looks a bit Snug.

JetBlue is one of my favorite airlines. I’ve flown them for years without incident. A big man, I chose Jet Blue (and most airlines flying the Airbus) because of its superior seating space.

In the USA article Mr Hayes says he was tasked with delivering value to passengers and the carrier’s shareholders at the same time.

Which in passenger speak,  means higher prices and tighter cabins . Passengers now pay for baggage on Jet Blue.  Leaving Southwest as the lone carrier without bag fees for now. Profitability mean the single cabin Jet Blue will have tired cabins on their coast to cost flights like the monster carriers.   With a deluxe and business and economy seating.

Beginning sometime in 2016  we will lose that precious space on the A320 as the carrier plans to squeeze in 15 additional seats.  I’m sure if were  feeling  nostalgic about the former space, we can buy it back.  This practice is common on the big three ( American, Delta, and United)

From the picture, I am convinced Hayes and other airline executives are not passengers on their airlines.

On most airlines anyone over 5.9 and 180 pounds is obese. Southwest Airlines is one of the better airlines however if your are large, you may have to purchase an extra ticket.  From my experience their person of size policy is the most aggressive.

Alternatives and the absence of competition

Before airline deregulation in the late seventies.  The average American took the Bus or the train.  Deregulation brought the cost of the ticket down.   Deregulation took its toll on interstate bus travel leaving Greyhound as the only intercity buses system and today it serves fewer cities.   Passenger rail collapsed  leaving the government run Amtrak.

At one time there were more than 25 airlines, today there are more planes in the air, but fewer airlines.  In the last few years, the giant carrier United merged with giant Continental.   Giant carrier US Airways is now apart of giant American.

With fewer airlines to choose from more than anytime in the last 50 years , the price of travel in the US has increased and the service has deteriorated.    More people are packed on smaller planes with smaller seats and with fewer services.

With high speed rail, decades away, what are the alternatives ?

One airline to watch is the Las Vegas based Allegiance Airlines.  Their fares are often much lower than Frontier, Jet Blue and Southwest.   The carrier buys and refurbish  older planes, notably  the  MD-80 have room to spare at the fraction of the cost of new aircraft. Many of their routes are in third tier airports which have lower fees.  In Northern California, they fly out of Stockton, Fresno and Oakland.    With fares as low as $100 to Hawaii.     I have found the staff is attentive and the airline clean.

This this isn’t an airline for the business traveler.   There are often one to five flights a week to a dedestination.  If a flight is cancelled, you may have to wait a few days up to a week for the next flight.    You cant plan too far ahead  with Allegiance, the carrier has a reputation of cancelling unprofitable routes.

Megabus and the Bolt Bus (Operated by Greyhound)  offers real a alternative to air travel.   A Bus?  Yes.  These buses are equipped with free WiFi and they have power outlets to charge your phone and PC.

Unlike Greyhound, their are no brick and mortar stations.  Only a designated bus stops.  Tickets are pre purchased online and a boarding pass is required for travel.     The buses are generally non stop and is very popular with college students.

Pricing is much like the airlines.  You save $$$$ by purchasing tickets in advance.  It is possible to travel for as one dollar.   Megabus has grown by word of mouth.  All my experiences in the south, here in California and last year on the east coast (The Picture Below is their mammoth bus stop in New York City)  has been positive . The Buses are clean and on time.

NycMega2014 059

The Los Angeles-San Francisco corridor is one of the busiest in the world.  Its an hour flight. When you include wait time its about  3hours and 15 minutes* each way.   Average cost  of an advance ticket is $111 each way.

Travel time on Megabus : Seven hours and 30 minutes. Average Cost $40 each way.  The seats are wider, more legroom and no baggage cost.

A long time ago, there was only one real phone company in America AT&T

 The giant airlines really don’t care about customer service scores.  They are not concerned about the high scores of smaller Carriers  like Virgin ,Alaska and Jet Blue.   A few years ago, the airlines said they needed to charge to baggage to off set high fuel costs.   With fuel cost at their lowest in years, have the airlines reduced costs or eliminated baggage fees?

NO they don’t have to!



2 Big hands for United Airlines

By CityFella

Okay, airline travel is horrible. There was a time. the airlines competed for passengers,  touting service, leg room and champagne flights.  There were wide-bodies aircraft with two, three aisles.

Today, the industry shaves an quarter inch a month to squeeze in extra seat to the point where any women over a size 12 is morbidly obese.   Service is available as long as you have a debit or credit card.  Those complimentary nuts are 2.95.  Small crowded plans and long wait times has created air rage.

This is travel in the US for the foreseeable future until we join the rest of the world by adding high speed rail.

The public have lived with baggage fees for some time now(2008).   To avoid fees. many passenger carry as much as they can in the cabin.

On one flight from Denver to Atlanta a man carried three large bags and a Guitar case, the case fell on the head of a woman.  The man did not apologize until another passenger notice the woman was bleeding.

On a flight to Austin , a last minute traveler entered the cabin with large bag.   The steward offered to check his bag, he refused.  Determined to have his bag above his seat,the man started removing bags belonging to other passengers and relocating their items to other bins.

For years the airline has had carry restrictions .  For the most part it has been a joke.  I have never seen an airline enforced the size restriction.   Imagine being THE employee attempting to enforce the rule!

United Airlines has begun enforcing the size restrictions.  Turning back some passengers to security checkpoints with their clearly over sized bags.

By not enforcing those rules, the airline industry created a monster.  I’m sure United’s customer service lines are inundated with angry passengers.

I’m a frequent travelers who  is routinely irritated by those rude passengers who drop bags on the heads, laps of other travelers ,delay flights and argue with other passengers all to save a buck.  Yes, baggage fees suck BIG time.    But it is what it is.  Whatcha gonna do? 

  I now pay the baggage fees,  it no longer takes me two hours to press my suit.  I’m am now one of the last passengers to leave the cabin, allowing me to decompress.  When I arrived at my hotel I’m a little less stressed.   Its a learning curve.

I am not a United customer but I applaud their efforts.   I hope their enforcement policy is contagious.

South on 99 to Interstate 5 then 405

They met online in a shady chat room, a place were conversations often begin with hi or stats and end with an address.  A place were  two  full sentences are rare and rarer still ,friendships.  A online conversation that grew into a friendship.  They talked several times a day, about work,school the perils of dating and the bullshit online.   They also shared intimate details of their lives , for six months they called each other several times a day and talked about meeting  each other.

Hours separated the two, the Central Valley and Los Angeles but life was is the way. The LA man  is a full time student and works part time . He drove an old car that needed a radiator and it wouldn’t make the trip over the Grapevine and into the valley.   The Central Valley man, was a supervisor and  worked weekends.

The Central Valley man lived in a small conservative town it was a town were everybody knew each other.  He knew four gay men, one was out , two were married to women and the other was on the down low.   The nearest big city was over an hour away.  He came out two years ago, much to his surprise his mom and dad where cool with it, they had a feeling, so was his brothers and sisters.     He soon learned not  everyone felt that way.  He  told a female co-worker  he was gay at a fast food restaurant, and within days his hours were cut.   His mother’s brother, an uncle he was close to told him he was no longer welcome at his home and he should talk to the Priest . He was  off limits to his cousins he’d grown up with  and they were told they  could no longer speak to him.   This  caused a split in the close knit family his mother and uncle no longer speaks.

A few weeks after his hours were reduced, he was hired at a credit union as a teller.  Within three months he was a supervisor.  The wages at the new job was considerably more than he was earning in fast food.  Which allowed him to get his own apartment and  buy a newer car. When he was young he dreamed of living in San Francisco, but after a couple of visits he felt the city was too fast and prefered the pace of the Valley.

The LA story was much more complicated.   Living on his own,  he is not out .  He had a girlfriend until last November.  All of his friends are heterosexual  His experiences with men is limited to late night encounters via the internet chatrooms and Craigslist.      Outside of school and the social media his primary focus online was sex.    He never talked to anyone  more that 20 minutes  from his home .     His family is from Wyoming, he is the second oldest of five.  All of his sibling were married by 21 and he is 24.   His brother hated fags and one vowed to shoot any fag that came on their farm .

After reading the  Central Valley mans profile, his first instinct was to ignore him.    While he was very cute,but  he lived in the fucking Central Valley, why bother.  But he, thought to himself, he could be a hotel nearby. so he responded with a hi,

LA: what are you into?

CV: u-lol.

LA: where you staying?

CV: staying???

LA: yeah, what hotel? are you here for work?

CV: I’m not in LA

LA: so….

CV: so lol

LA: ????

CV: what?

LA: smh what do u want?

CV: cold, your cute, just wanted 2 say hi

LA: tu hi

CV: y so cold?

LA: you live in CV and I’m here whatz d point?

CV: so you dont talk to anyone unless they live in LA?

LA: hey whatz the point?   c-ya

CV: friends……

From there an online friendship began,  chatting everyday online, then exchanging phone numbers, visit on Skype.  LA shared his innermost thoughts with CV, they spent a lot of time talking about the absurdity of online dating.

The Central Valley man asked for time off and made plans to visit LA.  The plans was for him to stay at the LA’s apartment.      The two men said couldnt wait to meet .. LA gave detailed instructions and they agreed to talk on the phone during the four hour drive.

The Central Valley man bought LA a gift.  They talked on the phone as the CV man drove south on 99 to LA.  At the grapevine, they lost connection several times.  As CV drove down the mountain LA said something was wrong with his phone.

As CV carefully made transition from Interstate 5 to the 405 San Diego Freeway he said he was so excited could hardly breathe.  He was going to meet his soul mate.

Within in a few miles LA called CV.  He said, he had to go to the  store to pick up a few things and he should be back before  CV arrived.

CV found the fenced in apartment building with no problem.  Around 7pm, LA called said he was running late, so CV sat in the car texting his best friend . As the Sun went down CV called LA…. “hey where are you-everything ok?   “ Man I got some stuff going on, my car…hey, let me call you back”

Around 10pm , CV realized he was  hungry…but he didn’t want to leave ,didn’t want to risk missing LA and drifts off to sleep.  He is awakened by a tap on window.  It is the LAPD, checking on his condition…. its now after 1am.  His phone calls to LA goes directly to voice mail….    He could have been in an accident, maybe his phone is dead.  I’ll just wait….CV says to himself.

The night is slowly turning grey, he dials the phone,this time it doesn’t go into voice mail.   Hello says the slightly hoarse voice on the phone.    Where are you, he asked ?   At home…  AT home?  yes. I’m parked out front….    A silver car? yeah,  I saw you, you were sleep.     Why didn’t you call me?

I figured you were drunk,  nobody  sleeps in there car in LA?    I wasn’t drunk, I was waiting for you can I come in, I really need to pee.       umm. no……   Okay….followed  by a short laugh.    CV follows behind LA as he unlocks the gate to the complex…..   They walk in silence…. It’s the second door to the left.

A wave of sadness  hits CV.   The person he thought he knew is cold and distant, a complete stranger.   Tears began to flow as he sit’s in the bathroom.  No hug, how r u..?  nothing.  Maybe he’s not a morning person., he reasons…..   Regrouping, he checks is face, hoping LA wouldn’t notice the redness in his eyes.

Thanks, I really needed to go……    No problem.   It’s really good to see you,  he slowly moves to hug a lifeless LA.   CV wanted to say more, wanted to say how happy he was when he got on 99, how excited he was when he saw the Los Angeles City Limit sign…   How he could barely swallow when he arrived in front of the apartment building to after all these months to finally meet the love of his life.

LA seems look away from CV he spoke.   LA stands and says I’ve got to make a call…and walks into the bedroom and closes the door.  The clock radio comes on in the bathroom  its 6 am….. “there is an major accident North bound on the 405 at Victory Blvd, three right lanes are blocked.  CV could see Sun’s reflection from the building next door.   An hour passes and LA asks, where are you staying?