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bamamick
10-17-2010, 07:21 AM
The CEO's of every single airline need to go on that television show where the bosses go incognito and work with their employees. Then they need to take a trip cross-country on their own airline, in coach, like the rest of us cattle.

It's almost become unbearable, folks. Overbooked flights. Aging aircraft with no more amenities than your average Greyhound bus. Discourteous service. Unbelieveably unmotivated employees. Not everyone. I don't mean everyone. But it is enough of them to be very noticeable. I thought airlines ran strict schools for their employees? Maybe they do, but once the person gets out of the school apparently it's alright if they do as little as is specifically needed to get a check each week. Sort of a working welfare system, from the looks of it?

And another thing, TSA employees either standing around bullshyting with one another doing nothing on the taxpayer's dollar, apparently completely unsupervised, or strutting around like neo-fascists bossing people about as if they were the reason we all decided to go make ourselves miserable for a day.

Folks, if you haven't flown in Europe lately you wouldn't know that it doesn't have to be like this. Europeans have better service, deal with better people, and spend less money. The European travelers bill of rights is posted openly in airports and the airlines have to conform to it. North American travelers are being ripped off, guys, and it is getting progressively worse.

O.K., that's my rant. I won't stop flying because I have to do it every so often, but by golly, once I retire, I plan on skipping as much of that as I can help.

Mickey Lake

Paul Pless
10-17-2010, 07:24 AM
Damn fine rant Mickey!

I think that's the first time I've ever seen you use the phrase 'neo-fascists'. . .

You're quite right of course, flying sucks.

McMike
10-17-2010, 07:36 AM
Sounds like our healthcare system too . . . Europe + better = cheaper . . . . hmmmm, USA USA USAaaaaaa.

paladin
10-17-2010, 07:54 AM
Gotta agree 300%.....as someone who averaged about 50-60K miles per year on airlines for close to 20 years between assignments the U.S. is a distant 4th in airline service.
My current health insurance is thru U.S. companies, but I find that I can get better and cheaper service in Europe....except for the fact that what appears on my bill and what is actually paid between the insurance companies and the hospitals borders on fantasy. A couple of weeks ago a bill appeared at home for a hair over 20K and I sent it back to the hospital and told them by phone and mail to deal with my insurance copany....I found that they settled for about 3500 bucks.....also four small bills from different sources (ambulance, er etc) for 5-600 were settled for 100-125 bucks.
In Turkey, where the insurance co. balked at paying the bill, I had them to write the bill to me for 4 times what it actually cost, I paid them in cash, the insurance rep called me and told me they could get the same service thru their U.S. counterparts for much less. They asked me what I'd settle for without a long drawn out process...I suggested one fourth the bill plus 50 bucks for my trouble. The rep wrote out the check before leaving. All state probably has the best travel insurance policy around for overseas travelers.

BrianW
10-17-2010, 08:01 AM
I'm generally in agreement.

There was an incident (very minor) in Amsterdam when I was getting ready to board the KLM flight to Dubai. They were conducting the search most Americans are familiar with (from TSA) at the gate, rather than a checkpoint prior to all the gates. I have become used to this overseas, although it's not common in the US, as in the US once you're on the gate side of security, you can board connecting flights without going back through security.

Anyhow, as I placed my backpack on the xray belt, and prepared to walk through the metal detector, the security guy asked about my belt (my shirt was untucked) and I said "no problem, it's a plastic buckle." He said, "your belt?". Again I said, "it's plastic". Then he said, "no, it's European rule, you must remove your belt." Having never heard that before, I said "sorry, I didn't know it was a rule" and removed my belt. I go out of my way to be nice, and not be the 'ugly American tourist.' But, I also go out of my way to wear as little metal as possible when traveling. Since European and Asian security points don't require people to remove their shoes (unless flying into the US), even my shoes are metal free.

As far as I know, there's never been a 'belt bomber', but there has been a 'shoe bomber' so I find the 'leave you shoes on, but remove your belt' rule a bit silly.

I didn't notice KLM's flight crews, or food, to be much if any better than Deltas. That's not meant as a compliment to Delta, but rather a poor showing for KLM. I expected better. I fly Air France in December, I wonder how they will perform.

paladin
10-17-2010, 08:11 AM
Flights from the middle east as a rule have a much poorer grade of food than the same flights going to middle east locations, at least that is what I found. The problem with some middle eastern countries is that the people have not yet learned to use the European/American style toilets, so if you need to use the rest room leaving one of the middle eastern countries, do it first thing, for somewhere within 30 minutes and 1 hour you will not be able to use the facitlities....it seems the standard custom is to hop up on the commode with your feet and straddle the facilities and use it as a bombsite....many, many of those folks have very poor aim.

bamamick
10-17-2010, 05:44 PM
Brian, Air France won't be any better. Air France is part of Delta (or something like that). I flew Air France to Germany in May and it wasn't any better.

Chuck, thanks for that very, very good travel tip. :)

Mickey Lake

bobbys
10-17-2010, 05:56 PM
Im pretty big but not THAT big, 6 foot 230 There is not enough room for my feet and my knees hit the seat ahead of me, My arms do not fit unless i hold them to my body.

If i ever find the bum that designed these seats i will bury him in the Meadowlands after torturing him with 6 hours in the middle seat

I like the peanuts though.

Bill R
10-17-2010, 06:02 PM
+1

I HATE flying. The airlines suck, and the TSA assclowns are worse. I have to fky a fair amount for work, but will drive every chance I get if I have a choice.

Lew Barrett
10-17-2010, 06:08 PM
I agree you Mickey except that the buses have better seating!

I do find that smiling and being pleasant to the attendants usually gets me the best that it is within their power to give. The problems start well above their grade.

On the one hand, air travel is a miracle that like most of our everyday miracles, we have come to take more or less for granted. And too, how many people willingly want to pay more for a ticket, even if the extra might buy a few amenities? This is a question you are encouraged to answer! The obscure and mercurial pricing structures that the airlines and travel services have developed to encourage travel at some times and to some places and discourage it to others is impossible to penetrate. Perhaps more accurately, it is so difficult to get a reasonably priced ticket for a reasonably comfortable service that one is really left with trying to fly as cheaply as possible knowing that unless you spend the miles or the money for an upgrade, the seat is going to suck regardless what you pay.

I wonder how many people would be willing to pay say a 20% premium for a 20% roomier seat and 20% better service? Is that a "fare" question?

Nicholas Scheuer
10-17-2010, 06:17 PM
Any of the so-called "Lagacy airlines" could go belly-up and get no sympathy from me. I might even cheer!

They complain that they're not making any money, then turn around and try to undercut each other's prices. If an airline CEO can't fugure out how much to charge foran a ticket in order to make a profit, WHY THE HELL DID HE GET AN MBA AND QUALIFY FOR A F_____G BONUS?

Maybe he or she ought to be walking the streets looking for another job, like flipping burgers at McDonalds, something they might actually be qualified for.

I flew many miles back when all the major airlines performed decently.

Moby Nick

JBreeze
10-17-2010, 06:45 PM
On the one hand, air travel is a miracle that like most of our everyday miracles, we have come to take more or less for granted. And too, how many people willingly want to pay more for a ticket, even if the extra might buy a few amenities?
I wonder how many people would be willing to pay say a 20% premium for a 20% roomier seat and 20% better service? Is that a "fare" question?

I think Southwest charges fat-a$$es for two seats - fine with me!


I'm generally in agreement.




I didn't notice KLM's flight crews, or food, to be much if any better than Deltas. That's not meant as a compliment to Delta, but rather a poor showing for KLM. I expected better. I fly Air France in December, I wonder how they will perform.

KLM is part of Air France, even though the crews retain some of their original "cultures".


The CEO's of every single airline need to go on that television show where the bosses go incognito and work with their employees. Then they need to take a trip cross-country on their own airline, in coach, like the rest of us cattle.


Watch CBS sunday night...the Frontier Airlines chief goes incognito on "Undercover Boss".

http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/la-trb-frontier-airlines-ceo-20101016,0,1601699.story


What do you expect from an industry that regards passengers as SLF - Self loading freight ?!

Hwyl
10-17-2010, 06:45 PM
I'm lucky I'm a compact 155lbs and a yogi. I still hate it and I'm not sure i agree about European airlines. Heathrow is a maze and people are rude. Air France is horrible, I was disappointed in Air Malta. Strangely enough I thought EasyJet was OK

bamamick
10-17-2010, 06:51 PM
Good question, Lew. 20% more cost for better service and more room? I would pay that willingly (that would increase most of my travel from the $400 to the $500 per flight range. Which means another $200 per trip for my wife and I). $200 added to the price of most people's vacations isn't much, but it isn't nothing, either. That IS a very good and valid question. I think my point of view is that even though I am paying less money, why can't not the people who ARE working now do so with a little more pride in their work? A little better attempt at efficiency? Maybe it is a matter of money, but it just doesn't seem to me that it should be.

The space issue is a different matter. And bobbys, I am 6'1" and weigh about 265 pounds right now. It's a squeeze, but depending on who is sitting next to me it's not that bad. It's the attitudes that bother me the worst.

Mickey Lake

JBreeze
10-17-2010, 07:01 PM
Aren't the seats wider and roomier in business class or 1st class?

I think the airline industry and possibly the banking industry, are two that, overall, have net "zero" profits.

Lew Barrett
10-17-2010, 07:16 PM
One problem with seating space is (as Moby sugggested) that the airlines have spent so much of their energy creating cheap fares that the notion of a comfortable standard fare is probably dead. The seating in the last flight I took (US Air) was so bad I will never willingly chose their flight again. Of course, it was the cheapest flight I could find that went where and when I needed it to.

If I recall, Virgin Air America had some extras I found a bit better than the usual, including seats that were pitched better, internet access and new equipment. I haven't flown overseas in seven or eight years. At the time we flew to Heathrow on British Airways business class and it was a fine flight. I could not justify the price of that ticket today.

JBreeze
10-17-2010, 07:16 PM
Here's a look at the future of air travel.....

Michael O'Leary (Ryanair) proposes standing during flights, and pay toilets.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/7864921/Ryanair-to-sell-5-tickets-for-standing-room-only-flights.html

I think he has also said that planes only need one pilot!

paladin
10-17-2010, 07:20 PM
Planes only need one pilot if they stay awake and on the job, and not really needed except as a monitor to takeoff and land.

JBreeze
10-17-2010, 07:27 PM
Qatar Airways pilot dies mid-flight Thursday, 14 October 2010 04:14

http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/129158-qatar-airways-pilot-dies-mid-flight-.html

But seriously, given all the problems I've read about regarding the management of a commercial flight, it seems that sometimes even two are not enough when the "automation" turns sour. You can still read about the pilots complaining about the elimination of the 3rd set of eyes (the flight engineer) on some of the larger aircraft.

Garret
10-17-2010, 07:41 PM
Were you on our flight out of Seattle last month? You described it perfectly. I used to think Delta was bad, but United has won the booby prize in my book. Rude, poorly staffed, SeaTac came close to a riot @ one point (some people had been in line for over 3 hours & had missed their flights because of the wait.

I find JetBlue a cut above the rest - particularly for room. I'm 6'5" & 190 lbs - so not wide, but long. JetBlue's std. seats give me 2-3" between my knees & the seat ahead of me. United gives about minus 5" - I literally have to sit sideways.

Many airlines offer upgrades to roomier seats, but they're not cheap. On the United Seattle to NY flight, the fare was 300 & the upgrade added 70 - for about 3" more distance between seats (which is still -2" for me). Delta charges a little less, as does JetBlue.

paladin
10-17-2010, 08:11 PM
On small planes on short runs, one pilot is fine. In SEA if we were going for a flight in excess of 3-4 hours, we took another guy to watch out for all the small crap. The first thing we did when assigned a "kicker" was to teach him to keep an eye on certain things and notify the guys in front of any tiny little variation from the norm. It's a bitch when you have a million things to watch and also do the driving.

Kaa
10-17-2010, 10:34 PM
You pays your money you takes your choices.

If you find coach "almost unbearable", fly business class. I'm told it's much more civilized :D

Kaa

Glen Longino
10-17-2010, 10:44 PM
People who fly in airplanes are like ferrets in a sack...in the SKY!

Phillip Allen
10-17-2010, 10:59 PM
Flights from the middle east as a rule have a much poorer grade of food than the same flights going to middle east locations, at least that is what I found. The problem with some middle eastern countries is that the people have not yet learned to use the European/American style toilets, so if you need to use the rest room leaving one of the middle eastern countries, do it first thing, for somewhere within 30 minutes and 1 hour you will not be able to use the facitlities....it seems the standard custom is to hop up on the commode with your feet and straddle the facilities and use it as a bombsite....many, many of those folks have very poor aim.

Are you trying to tell me that it's not just Cubans in Florida that do that?

bobbys
10-17-2010, 11:02 PM
It was 6 bucks for a screwdriver but worth it!

Phillip Allen
10-17-2010, 11:03 PM
It was 6 bucks for a screwdriver but worth it!

you can get them up by the cash register at Autozone for .99

BrianW
10-18-2010, 01:22 AM
Are you trying to tell me that it's not just Cubans in Florida that do that?


Chuck speaks the truth. While certainly a generalization, it's no secret that many of the folks over here will trash a restroom in no time flat. When you see signs that say "no washing feet or blowing your nose into the sink" it's a clue.

pipefitter
10-18-2010, 01:26 AM
I never did like flying until I compared how I felt when I got to my destination as opposed to driving there. I would rather deal with airline staff than what is on the highways these days. If I was a larger person, I would spring the extra 100 for first class, not just for my own comfort, but the comfort of others as well. My only gripe with the airlines is more with the travelers than the staff. Namely, those who have a real warped idea of what carry on luggage should consist of. Every passenger ought to have a space in the overhead compartment. More often than not, I end up stuffing my small duffel under the seat so that the metros can hog all the space with their 12 day just-in-case trunks for a 2 hr flight.

C'mon skinflints, fork out a few extra dollars. You don't have to win ALL the time. You'll end up spending twice that at Starbucks and Chilis before it's said and done.

BrianW
10-18-2010, 01:28 AM
It was 6 bucks for a screwdriver but worth it!

Delta still has free drinks (beer and wine) on international, United charges for them. This is in coach.

Like Garret, when flying United, I do pay for the 'economy plus' upgrade. Not only is the pitch better (they claim 5 inches, but so do I, and the wife don't believe me either :)) but there's often more open seats hence a greater chance of one open next to you.

BrianW
10-18-2010, 01:31 AM
If I was a larger person, I would spring the extra 100 for first class... ...C'mon skinflints, fork out a few extra dollars.

$100 might get you an upgrade on a commuter hop, but the difference between coach and business class or first class going overseas is measured in thousands of dollars, not tens. One way.

Phil Y
10-18-2010, 03:57 AM
Operating an airline is all about racing to the bottom. Cheap fares = bums on seats. So we are getting what we are prepared to pay for. Its not about customer service any more. Its just about being cheap. Customer service may still be part of the advertising, but its no longer part of the business model. In the industry passengers are widely known as "Self Loading Freight". Says it all.
Phil

Paul Pless
10-18-2010, 05:06 AM
When you see signs that say "no washing feet or blowing your nose into the sink" it's a clue.i can feel it, its coming, one of these days katherine is gonna post such a sign in 'my' bathroom. . .

LeeG
10-18-2010, 06:11 AM
and yet no one is complaining the price of air flight is too high. I agree TSA is less than elegant and I don't like seeing the occasional elderly passenger made to stand in a plexiglass cage as they wait for a TSA person but a Global War on Terrorism has blowback. In the forever war all must sacrifice. I'd like an extra couple inches of elbow room but it's still better than driving, biking or walking.

Garret
10-18-2010, 06:34 AM
and yet no one is complaining the price of air flight is too high. I agree TSA is less than elegant and I don't like seeing the occasional elderly passenger made to stand in a plexiglass cage as they wait for a TSA person but a Global War on Terrorism has blowback. In the forever war all must sacrifice. I'd like an extra couple inches of elbow room but it's still better than driving, biking or walking.

If you shop carefully, you can get good prices, but sometimes they are insane. I guess can see booking a flight 2 days in advance would be a little more expensive, but the majors will often charge 10x as much. I fly from VT to Moline, IL fairly often (I get to all the vacation hotspots) & I've seen the price fluctuate between 300 & 500 in a one week period - often down as you get closer to the departure (though still a month in advance). Neither bus nor train travel has this kind of pricing. For them, you look up the price & that's what it is, done. Why do airlines have to do this?

As far as luggage goes - the airlines promote people bringing oversize bags on board with their huge prices for checked bags. Just recently we had to check a bag on United. $50 one-way. When they weighed it, it was 52 lbs (2 lbs over). They would've charged $100 extra for that if we hadn't been able to pull 2 lbs of stuff out of it.

Brian Palmer
10-18-2010, 07:01 AM
We just flew Harrisburg, PA to Madison, WI through Chicago on United. The counter folks, TSA, and the flight staff were fine. My only real complaint is the $25 charge per checked bag. We had two large checked bags and a really small carry on each (e.g., a shoulder bag for books, wallet, etc.). The $25 charge for checked bags makes everyone think their bag is a carry on.

Brian

Y Bar Ranch
10-18-2010, 07:32 AM
II wonder how many people would be willing to pay say a 20% premium for a 20% roomier seat and 20% better service? Is that a "fare" question?
I would absolutely be happy with my job paying 20% extra. Problem is because the low fares exist, and because the person who books the flight doesn't ride on the flight, I help the team by saving money and suffering.

Rode back and forth more than a few times in the back of C-130s, C-17s, and C-5s, where you sit sideways along the fuselage staring at pallets of cargo. As soon as you're high enough to turn off the seatbelt light, its each man for himself in spreading out the pad and sleeping bag and achieving max comfort. Hammock between cargo containers? Check!

UPS and Fedex should offer similar services to the more robust traveling set. Kind of like booking passage on a freighter. ;)

Andrew Craig-Bennett
10-18-2010, 07:41 AM
Oh, in Europe, if flying on Ryanair, be warned that their concept of your destination may not be yours.

Two examples:

"Hamburg" is Ryanspeak for Lubeck

"Oslo" is Ryanspeak for Sandefjord

etc.

Mrleft8
10-18-2010, 08:02 AM
Anyone watch "Undercover Boss" last night"
CEO of FRONTIER AIRLINE.

Phillip Allen
10-18-2010, 10:45 AM
$100 might get you an upgrade on a commuter hop, but the difference between coach and business class or first class going overseas is measured in thousands of dollars, not tens. One way.

one round trip flight for me...$2000 coach...$6000 business (I got your $100 right here!) ....................:)

B_B
10-18-2010, 11:04 AM
Flights from the middle east as a rule have a much poorer grade of food than the same flights going to middle east locations, at least that is what I found...
Emirates Air in 2007 - New York to Dubai, Dubai to Johannesburg - had the absolutely best food I've had on a plane since Luftansa in 1985ish. Full meals (including a very rare warmed towelette) for breakfast, lunch and three course dinner (in coach!), snacks in between at your pleasure, just ask the flight attendant. There were more of those per customer than I've ever seen and they spoke close to two dozen languages, including Tagalog and Illacano. I'd fly them again in heartbeat just for the food.

Worst food I've ever had, on a plane, was United. They're horrible.

paladin
10-18-2010, 11:12 AM
Maybe I should say the quality of the food was fine....originally, it's what they did with it that was horrible......still cold in the middle, salad/veggies wilted beyond belief....coke only for soft drinks and if you ask for water it comes in tiny cups.

Bob Adams
10-18-2010, 11:16 AM
Gotta fly Delta to Atlanta next week.....I know I'm getting a window seat but I'll miss South West's friendly staff.

B_B
10-18-2010, 11:43 AM
Maybe I should say the quality of the food was fine....originally, it's what they did with it that was horrible......still cold in the middle, salad/veggies wilted beyond belief....coke only for soft drinks and if you ask for water it comes in tiny cups. Maybe they knew I was on board so things picked up ;)

Lew Barrett
10-18-2010, 11:51 AM
I would absolutely be happy with my job paying 20% extra. Problem is because the low fares exist, and because the person who books the flight doesn't ride on the flight, I help the team by saving money and suffering.


The problem, of course, is that the option to spend a reasonable amount more to get a reasonable amount more is usually not available on domestic flights.

I do love flying business class (which is all the upgrade I would ever need). Like I said, those days are long gone for me. More or less "what Brian said."

EVA Air (last time we flew it) offers a "middle" class on some of their flights to SE Asia. For maybe 35% more, they give you a better seat, some extra juk, and another 6 or 8 inches of pitch. Well worth it on an 18 hour flight. That's the kind of service I'd like to see available on transcontinental flights here. I don't need the juk.

Brian Palmer
10-18-2010, 12:42 PM
On our short hop from Chicago to Madison, the captain said that they would be offering only "water service."

It almost sounded like the attendent was going to come down the aisle with a garden hose.

Actually she had a tray of cups of water.

Brian

bamamick
10-18-2010, 12:51 PM
Short notice arrangements for flying out of Mobile to Dusselfdorf? Coach - about $2000 per seat. Business? About $9000 per seat. We used to fly business class as a matter of course one upon a time, but not any more. Now we just have to tough it out (unless we can charge it off to a project and not have our business line pay for it).

Mickey Lake

Andrew Craig-Bennett
10-18-2010, 01:38 PM
Maybe I should say the quality of the food was fine....originally, it's what they did with it that was horrible...

Never, ever, set foot in an airline kitchen. The sight of an aluminium container shaped like an old fashioned bath full of pre-cooked fillet steak in the BA kitchen at Heathrow has been with me since 1974, when as a very young man I had to investigate an incident there.

But I have also enjoyed the never to be repeated best of airline travel - ID 90 first class on Cathay Pacific in the 1980s when as a matter of course you gave your business card to the purser and were invited, as a fellow employee of the Hong, to join the Captain on the flight deck (this did work both ways - CX flight crew were automatically on the Captain's table on the cruise ship). This was the period when CX investigated which premier cru clarets were best at 30,000ft and, having made their selection, bought so much from one vinyard that the owners offered to sell the vinyard to the airline - who had to decline on the grounds that it was taking vertical integration too far...

Concordia...41
10-18-2010, 06:43 PM
Comedian Louis C.K. - Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy

The part about air travel begins at 2:02 :D
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r1CZTLk-Gk

Canoez
10-18-2010, 07:14 PM
Well, I'll be able to report on American Airlines to El Paso via Dallas over the next few days. Not looking forward to a stellar trip. As part of the trip, I need to carry measuring tools - 3" digital calipers, a 6" scale and 12' tape measure. Per the TSA's own website, they should be OK to carry, but we'll see what the reality is.

I find that the security folks overseas are more courteous than those in the US and that those working at airports that more commonly carry international travelers are a bit better than those that are primarily handling domestic flights.

I'll second Hwyl's notion that Heathrow is a maze - particularly the old BA terminal and the general international terminal where you felt like you were cattle in pens. The new Terminal 5 is nice, but as I mentioned in a PM to Downthecreek, it reminds me of Terry Gilliam's Brazil. The building was nice to behold, but inconvenient to navigate and poorly signposted inside and on the motorway.

We did fly BA this summer and found it to be similar to service we've had in the past - and that's good. Passengers seem to be ruder than ever, however.

Breakaway
10-18-2010, 07:52 PM
UPS and Fedex should offer similar services to the more robust traveling set. Kind of like booking passage on a freighter.

Have a friend who is a mid-level mgr with fedex and that's how he flies most of the time, for business, anyway.