Illinois, This Is The Only Way Things Will Get Better When You Fly
From the moment you decide to fly you cease to be human and you become cattle. From the check-in, to the TSA, to the plane, you are just a number. You are treated like one of the livestock that needs to be shuffled through the stalls, loaded, and shipped.
How can we, the paying public, expect better service and care when we take to the “friendly skies”? Seem like there is only one answer.
The Latest Flight Experience Was The Worst Yet
It was a quick trip to California for my birthday weekend to visit some family. The trip there was mediocre, but at least on time. The trip back…
It started with a text message at 11:15 a.m. on Monday saying the 2:22 p.m. flight has been delayed and will now be departing at 3:19 p.m. Well if you’ve flown before you know when that first message comes in saying your flight is delayed, it won’t be the end of the delays. But still, just to be safe, got to the airport on time.
So it’s time to go through the winding cattle-like stalls of flight check-in. Then the winding cattle-like government stalls of TSA screening where dignity goes to die and the smell of shoeless humans floats in the air like a high school locker room.
OK, that is done, now off to the gate. And wouldn’t you know it, the 3:19 p.m. flight is now 3:39 p.m. The crew did the best they could to get everyone on as fast as possible. This story isn’t about the workers. They are doing the best they can with the broken system they have around them. When I explained that due to the over hour delay, it would be about 20 minutes between flights, they moved us from the back of the plane to row 5. A shining beacon in an otherwise empty void of care.
And we’re off. Flying gracefully across America heading to Dallas. As I kept watch of the flight tracker I became more hopeful. We were gaining a little bit of time. The estimated landing time went from 9:05 p.m. to 8:54 p.m. I could haul ass across two terminals in 24 minutes and slide right into that flight home.
But, there is one more step to make sure your flying day goes smoothly. Ground traffic. We actually landed early. Got near the gate at 8:48 p.m. Hopes are coming back. And then we wait. And we wait. And we wait. At 9:16 p.m. when they finally rolled up to the skywalk to let us out, the dream was dead.
On a 3-hour flight, it was apparently not communicated that there were a lot of passengers on the plane that had connecting flights and that they needed to get to a gate the moment the plane landed.
Missed Connections Are Not Rare For Airlines
That is the line for American Airlines' customer service. On a non-holiday Monday night. With no weather anywhere in the country. Again, these people trying to help all of us that were stranded in Dallas were doing the best job they could. They are just a part of an overall broken system. A system that was about to shell out cash for all those rooms, rides, and food.
While in line (over an hour) I actually got a call back from American Airlines customer service to get things fixed. So we’d now be flying the next day to Cedar Rapids, renting a car (not reimbursable) driving to Moline, and hoping our bags would be there.
We took the Uber (not reimbursable) to the hotel that was provided by American Airlines where we were greeted with this.
There wasn’t some big convention going on. It wasn’t a holiday. It was just another Monday night at the Holiday Inn Express where the airlines send their passengers that miss flights. One of many hotels around DFW that have lines like that nightly.
I asked the gentlemen checking us in if it was like this every night and he said, “Ryan, it’s going to be like this tomorrow but I’ve reached the end and I’m not going to be here.” So every night the airline industry is shelling out for food and hotel rooms because of their incompetence.
Maybe flight costs wouldn’t be so high if American Airlines didn’t overbook. Maybe flight costs wouldn’t be so high if they weren’t paying for late nights of customer service, hotels, and food. Maybe…they just don’t care.
What Can We Do To Make Flying Better?
It’s simple…STOP FLYING. You might be thinking “Easier said than done”, but it’s really pretty simple. Stop giving these airlines your money and things will finally change.
We are the inventors of the Great American Road Trip…bring it back. Take the extra day off on the front and back of your vacation and drive. More than likely you have extra vacation time to use anyway and this will get you exploring even more. And, the gas, car costs, and even hotels will still be cheaper.
We all learned in 2020 how to do business over Zoom…so stop flying and get on Zoom for your business meetings. From interviews to site checks to planning meetings, it can all be done over video.
There are ways to stop flying. But if you must, don’t be silent about being treated like cattle. Don’t take it out on the worker there…again, they are just cogs in a broken machine…use the power of social media to continue to show people the problems. Maybe then one day the CEO of American Airlines will get out and fly like one of us regular people and realize it’s awful.
My experience wasn’t “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”. I didn’t have to ride in the back of a U-Haul with a polka band to see my kid on Christmas. My story is simply one of thousands and thousands of stories from people that deal with the incompetence and lack of caring from the airline industry every day. But, it will be my last story for a long time cause I'm done flying.
Hopefully, this story will convince more people to stop flying and/or share their stories of travel nightmares so the airline industry can work better for themselves and for us, the paying traveler.