Sunday, February 22, 2009

US Airways to stop charging for drinks

But you still will be made to suffer for it.

US Airways has decided that charging $2 for a soda that goes for 50 cents retail at the supermarket is pretty dumb, and is discontinuing the practice.

It's a good start, but it won't gain them any of my business if I can help it.

Flying to me is the quickest way to get from here to there if you're going more than 500 miles. Anything less than that, and it's usually either just as fast or faster to drive, and it costs a heck of a lot less. And I get to skip the coming and going cavity searches.

To be honest, I hate to fly. With a passion.

It starts with the booking process, where you get told that it costs $300 more to fly from any convenient airport than it would if you drive 2 hours to get on a 1 hour flight.

Then you go to check in for your flight. You show up 3 hours early so that you can stand in line for the 1 or 2 agents that staff the desk. After you look at the 3 unmanned desks for an hour, you finally get your boarding ticket and give up your check baggage. Of course, you have to pay for that check baggage now, so you give up even more money.

Then you go through security, which I won't complain about. Anything that is done to make sure some whacko hasn't shoved explosives into a body cavity before getting on my flight is OK with me.

After an hour or so in the security line, you make your way to the gate. A good percentage of the time the gate you were told to go to was just an educated guess, but the airline will be helpful and put up another educated guess on the information boards located within the terminal.

Eventually, you'll find the correct gate, and settle in for a long wait. Remember, you came in hours early for your flight. But I hope you brought a book, because you'll be here a while waiting for your plane to arrive. You may have been at the gate an hour before your scheduled departure time, but the airline has no problem getting the plane to the gate much later than that. About 50% of the time, your departure time will come and go with no plane in the gate and no explanation from the ground crew.

Eventually your flight will be called, and you will line up to get on-board. You are now cattle, and will be treated as such. As soon as you give them your ticket, they own you and they know it. You will be repeatedly told to hurry up and get on the plane. You will be shamed for actually bringing a carry-on bigger than a notebook, and will be threatened with even more fees if your carry-on is too big for the overhead storage.

Once you get settled, the airline will admit that it sold too many seats for the flight, and will start "suggesting" that someone give up their seat in exchange for the possibility of flying out at some later date. If no-one goes for it, they will start threatening to jettison us ungrateful slobs unless someone takes one for the team. Any other industry that sold more product than it had to sell would be brought to trial for fraud. Apparently the airlines have some deal for this.

Then you take off. They crank up the cold, dry air conditioning, so you cough up a little more money for a blanket to ward off hypothermia. If you're smart, you bought some food for the trip, because unless you can live on a few grams of peanuts you're going to be weak from hunger when you land.

Eventually you will land. Hopefully it will be at an airport. To paraphrase Carlin, I prefer to land at an airport, because those cornfield landings tend to mess up my schedule.

You may have to go through all of this again if you're catching another flight since it's just too much work to have direct flights anywhere anymore. But for the sake of this argument, let's say you're done flying for today.

You get off the plane, and hopefully can decipher the signs that point you to the correct exit and place to get your luggage. Mostly, I continue my cattle instinct and follow the herd. Hopefully, there's also a restroom close by too. While the airline does provide a head on the plane, unless you're under 4 feet or already have scoliosis, you're not going to be able to use it without making a huge mess all over yourself.

Once you find the correct carousel for your luggage, you begin saying decades of the Rosary in hopes that your bag is there and in one piece. If it's not there, or if it's damaged, you get to go through the exquisite experience of trying to get the airline to admit that you ever had a bag, and then getting them to figure out where it is and get it to you.

And you get to go through all of this again on the return trip. Wheeee!

Believe it or not, you paid for this.

So I'm not impressed that an airline is not going to charge me for a soda. I'll be impressed when these cretins learn how to treat me like a human being and give me good value for the hundreds of dollars I give them to get me from place to place. Until then, I plan on driving myself everywhere I can and laughing when the airlines whine about declining revenues.

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