The Very Best and Very Worst of Air Travel Today

Posted December 11, 2008 by Nicki Krawczyk

Facialexpression It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. While I can’t take credit for that opening line (props to you, Chuckie D!), I felt it was rather appropriate for today’s post. We’ve come to a point in air travel history when there’s never been so much potential for things to work out really, really, well. (I heard that scoff; bear with me for a moment.)Technology, security, weather predictions, pilot and flight attendant safety, and, well, in-flight entertainment options have never been better.

Indeed, things used to be not-so-hot in the air travel sector. Heck, it wasn’t even until the early ‘70s that all passengers were screened for firearms before boarding. Better yet, hijackings of U.S. planes used to be so common that the Cuban Government sold $30 sandwiches to the passengers who had been diverted to Havana airport. (The State Department picked up the tab.) Nowadays, we’ve got a better handle on issues of this ilk. And, as if that weren’t good enough, airlines have also figured out more ways to cater to our needs than just protecting us from sandwich-wielding Cubans. Briefly, I’ll call to your attention the special swankiness of some airlines, new routes being added as needed, seat upgrades, and numerous other things. Hey, air travel isn’t so bad!

Ooo, then there’s the other side of the coin. On which things sometimes look an eensy, weensy, bit lousy. On-time arrivals and departures are at a low, frequent flyer charges are up, airline fees continue to climb, and, depending on who you talk to, it either sucks to deal with flight attendants or to be one. (I’m simplifying a long argument here; I’ve dealt with many fantastic flight attendants. Please don’t remember my name and make me sit in the bulkhead.)

To paraphrase Mr. Dickens, there’s a whole load of good and a whole load of bad. Personally, I sat on a plane on the tarmac at Boston’s Logan Airport on and off (mostly on) for nine hours only to then have my flight canceled. Thumbs down. However, I’ve had Midwest ticketing agents hunt me down and finagle new flights for me without being asked just because they noticed that I’d have trouble making a connecting flight. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

So, my question for you is: What have been your best and worst experiences with air travel? Please leave your answer in the comment field below.

(Photo: linguistics.berkeley.edu)

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