Flying to Montana recently in a breezy mood, I found myself thinking about Joe Brancatelli’s occasional “Nobody asked me, but…” reflections on air travel and the airline business (which Joe in turn took from the famous 1940s-1960s sports writer Jimmy Cannon–see https://www.amazon.com/Nobody-asked-but-world-Cannon/dp/0030153816). Suddenly a number of ironies having to do with flying dawned on me. With apologies to Joe and Jimmy Cannon for cribbing their shtick, I offer these questions:
Why are airplanes so cold in the summer, but airlines have removed all blankets except in first class? I see people boarding clad in nothing but shorts, thin tees, and going sockless in sandals, and then clutching themselves and shivering at altitude. On both flights going to Billings I had to ask the flight attendants to ask the captain to add heat to the cabin.
Why can’t I discern any real difference between Delta’s “main cabin” back-of-the-bus cheapest economy seats and their much-vaunted “Comfort +” seats just behind first class? Delta says they are much better and charges a lot more for them, yet I just don’t feel more comfortable. After all, they are just as narrow and cramped as the ones in the back.
Why are there only two lavatories for 120+ coach passengers on narrow body aircraft–a ratio of more than 60 to 1–but the ratio is 16 to 1 in first class? That seems to be a huge imbalance to me. Do airlines think coach passengers’ bodily functions are different from those of folks seated in first class?
And why can’t coach passengers near the front of the plane use the forward lav? Are they not as trustworthy as first class passengers?
And why is one of the two aft lavs always occupied by someone for half the flight? Are they primping or praying in there? Have they no sensitivity to their economy colleagues clutching their groins and hopping up and down outside the door?
Certainly I understand why airlines ask people not to open or to eat peanut products when someone with a peanut allergy has announced his or her presence on board. But why, then, do airlines still serve milk products, wheat products, and meat products in the presence of passengers who are lactose-intolerant, gluten-intolerant, or are vegetarians?
For that matter, why do airlines serve alcohol around alcoholics or caffeine products around Mormons or products with pork when Jews or Muslims are on board?
Why is flight attendant luggage always stored in the compartment over my seat no matter which row on board I am assigned?
Why is my hub connecting gate always close to my arrival gate when my inbound flight is on time or early and when I have two hours to connect, but always as far away as possible when my flight is late and with just 30 minutes of connection time?
Why, too, are many hub airport moving sidewalks broken between the distant connecting gates as I frantically run to my second flight? This happened twice to me recently, once at London’s Terminal 3, where over half the moving sidewalks were inoperable, and again recently at MSP trying to get from gate G21 to gate F15, about as long a distance as one can expect at that airport, where two-thirds of the moving sidewalks were not working.
Why am I always on a plane with a defective pressurization system when I am suffering from congested sinuses or a bad head cold?
Why is it that I can pay $1130 for a round trip on Emirates Air halfway around the globe to Sri Lanka, with free stopovers in Dubai and The Maldives, but American Airlines charges $960 round trip Raleigh to Washington, a distance of just 300 miles?
Why is it that my 14 hour flight on Emirates in coach, an airline where I hold zero Elite status, is a far better experience than flying on American Airlines, where I am a million miler and Lifetime Gold, in the Main Cabin Extra section for 7 hours to London?
Why is it that Delta and American have so devalued their frequent flyer programs but still clog my mailbox with their branded credit card enticements lauding the benefits of those same FF programs? They have no shame.
Why is it that Delta takes pride in “upgrading” me from “Main Cabin” to “Comfort +”? Oh yeah, I forgot: No shame.
Why is it that when I really, really need to recharge my smartphone that I’m on a plane with no charging receptables?
While I find that the E170/E175 airplanes are more comfortable than the first gen CRJs, why is that the overhead compartments are no bigger than on the original CRJs, but the airlines won’t pink-tag luggage on these newer aircraft? This makes it impossible to find enough O/H space for everybody’s carryon.
Why is it that when I read this list of questions to my wife that she thought I was just bitching and moaning when I thought I was being funny and ironic?