Friday, March 17, 2006

Cattle Herding

As everyone on this continent is fully aware, the airline industry has taken a proverbial nosedive in the last few years. Post 9/11 traveler fear, increased security needs, and skyrocketing fuel costs are some of the main reasons why almost every major carrier in North America has filed for some sort of bankruptcy protection. Who is affected most by this ? The travelers, of course. This last trip to Toronto for my sister's bridal shower was a prime example of this.

The first major change I noticed was the weight allowance for baggage. On Air Canada, the checked baggage weight allowance was reduced from 70lbs. just over a year ago, to 60lbs, and now to 50lbs. After my last trip, and the fiasco of having to take out clothes and my medical bag with my underwear in full view of the rest of the terminal, I donated my large, sturdy Samsonite suitcase and replaced it with a rolling duffel. I had to do the same for my small suitcase, to meet the ridiculously light 22lb. carry-on requirement as well.

When I do fly, my airline miles now accrue at half the rate that they used to. If I want full credit for all miles, I'd have to pay double for the flight. Rather defeats the purpose, doesn't it ? Oh, and the regular amount of miles only gets you the crappy multi-stop flights with long layovers in airports nowhere near your destination. If I want a nonstop, it costs 1.5 times the regular amount of miles.

So, you accrue miles at half the rate you used to, and it costs 1.5 times as much as it used to for a decent flight. I wonder why they even bother in the first place.

In-flight meals ? Forget it. You want something to eat, you now have to pay for it. They don't even offer as many brands of soda as they used to. At least the food available for sale is higher-quality than the questionable concoctions they used to serve for free. But I now know to bring a Subway sandwich and a bottle of water with me. I won't pay for an in-flight meal. It's a principle thing.

But the kicker was my experience on the recent return flight. I habitually sleep on every flight I take, regardless of the time of day. I had left my trusty travel pillow in the rental car, so I asked the flight attendant if I could please have a pillow. Those little flat pillows they give you on the red-eyes (and that I saw conspicuously sitting on ever first-class seat on this flight !) are tiny, but are definitely better than nothing. I eyed them with desire for the comfort one of them would bring.

Her answer ?

"Sorry, we don't have pillows available. You can buy an inflatable one for $2 if you like."

What ???

Has this industry gone completely insane ? Do they really think I am going to shell out money for some lame-arsed inflatable pillow when there are plenty of unused ones sitting on the empty seats of the business-class flyers ? Do I have to go begging like a homeless person with my hand out in business class to score one of these precious items ? And what will happen if I actually do shell out my hard-earned $2 for one of the inflatable devices ? Will they make me pay for the oxygen I'd use blowing the darned thing up ?? What is wrong with this picture ?

I fretted and shuffled in my seat, convinced I would never rest for the flight due to this trauma. Until I was saved by the very flight attendant that broke me the terrible news. In her hand was one of the small, flat pillows, unneeded by the high-rollers at the front of the plane. She handed it to me, smile on her face, sympathetic to my uncushioned head and obvious distress.

She gave me that little pillow. And she didn't even ask for money.

I wanted to hug her.


Blogger Matthew said...

Sounds like AirCanada needs to seriously re-think its business strategy. Thankfully United doesn't have those issues, well at least not all of those issues. The buy-on board food, is at least appetizing.

March 20, 2006 at 10:49:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Derek said...

in the last 3 months, i have been on 20 flights with American Airlines. half being business class, the other half being coach. and ya, its lame what they do. when im in business class, free food, headphones, etc. then in coach, oh you want headphones? $2, a lame box of cheap food? $5. like what the hell.

the so called 'in flight entertainment' is a joke also. every time i fly in business class, i keep the headphones that get left on my seat. and on my next coach flight, i give them out to people next to me that were gonna buy a pair. seems fair.

oh, and yes, 20 flights, its a lot. work sending me back and forth to our other offices. mostly toronto to turks and caicos, and back. lots of pics on my website link if anyone is interested.

March 22, 2006 at 7:16:00 PM PST  
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March 27, 2006 at 7:13:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...;_ylt=AuobHevrG4sTyJHpcOntFh.s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3YWFzYnA2BHNlYwM3NDI-

March 27, 2006 at 7:13:00 PM PST  

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