I’ve just gotten back from Aruba, after several days, for the seventh time, because the weather is always perfect there. But as with airline tripS these days, getting to and from any destination is consistently awful. What really infuriated me this time is that I am TSA pre-cleared, paid more for better seats, had lounge access and whatever other insulating perk there are, and still wound up basically enduring the same lousy experience as everyone else anyway.
Years ago it used to be pleasant and simple. For example one time I was late for a flight to Chicago on American Airlines, but was able to easily walk over to United Airlines and catch another flight with the same ticket and no fuss. You could go up to a counter anywhere and still get a ticket for an imminently departing flight. There was a lot more comfort and space without any extra charges. There was a time when you could even go to the top of the Pan Am building in New York City and take a New York Airways helicopter flight straight to the airport. Those days are long gone now, compounded by the massive security apparatus now in place.
After countless billions poured into the ridiculously named “Homeland Security” department, It would be one thing if all of the convoluted processes involved actually improved anything, but they clearly don’t. I’m not talking about the non-existent border here, but just basic safe and convenient travel. This really struck home when I opened my luggage at my hotel and found a box-cutter I’d forgotten about in my carry-on luggage. That should have been readily spotted with all the machinery and personnel deployed, but it wasn’t. Given that was the instrument of of choice for the 9/11 monsters and how much they were able to get away with, I am left wondering if anything works right anymore. What is the point of having to arrive hours before your flight, stand on line to pass through a series of security checkpoints, if in the end it still can simply be breached anyway?
As with so many other aspects of our lives, we have surrendered a significant amount of our personal liberty over the years based upon false promises. Of course we need security, but how about some smart security, with better equipment, that doesn’t require an army of personnel controlling everyone? Security is important, but it is only one consideration among many that could so easily improve this process. Most other businesses strive to maintain good customer satisfaction. Not here. How little attempt has been made to increase comfort and convenience.
It’s as though passengers are just an afterthought, a given, and without any other real options. Arranging seating to maximize the number of people that can be squeezed into uncomfortable seats shows no consideration for human beings at all. Of course, if you don’t like that you can shell out more money for basically the same seat with just a few more inches of legroom. Worse, how about significant differences in price for passengers purchasing the same seats?
It’s past time to put together something that could evaluate the system from the standpoint of people first. I’m still astonished at what I thought the future of aviation was going to look like fifty years ago. It should have been indescribably better, but instead it is sadly far worse than we could possibly have imagined.