Friday, July 2, 2010
Our upstanding, greedy, infested, and hilarious airline industry
I stumbled across several interesting stories today, all related to air travel.
There's an Irish airline company that's considering deeply discounted tickets - about $8.00 each - to customers who are willing to stand during the entire flight. So instead of the traditional, comfortable seats with all of that wonderful legroom, Ryanair is thinking about replacing the last 10 rows of seats with a standing area. I'm envisioning rows of tight, claustrophobia-inducing high-backed walls to lean against. Interesting idea, but can you imagine standing up for the duration of a long, coast-to-coast flight? If these cheap, standing-room-only tickets ever became available, would you consider buying a ticket? By the way, Ryanair is also thinking about charging customers $1.50 every time they use the restroom.
During the first quarter of 2010, the U.S. airline industry made more than $760 million from baggage fees. When it comes to air travel, I'm a pretty efficient packer. But on a recent week-long business trip to Las Vegas, I had to check my suitcase on both the outbound and inbound flights, and incurred a $50 fee for doing so. And it's just getting worse. On August 1, Spirit Airlines is going to charge travelers $45 for carry-on bags that don't fit under your seat! This MSNBC article talks about ways to bypass luggage fees (i.e. join a frequent flier program, ship your bags, buy new lighter suitcases, or take the train!!).
If you thought putting up with chatty seatmates and bossy flight attendants was bad, wait until you hear this one. A US Airways flight from Atlanta to Charlotte had to return to Atlanta when maggots began falling on the passengers. (I shuddered as I typed that sentence.) Seems a bag in an overhead bin was filled with infested meat and the maggots "wormed" their way out into the cabin (shudder #2). The bin was cleaned and the plane took off again a half-hour later, but was taken out of service in Charlotte so it could be fumigated.
You still with me? On a happier note, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the movie "Airplane!", the hilarious send-up of everything airline-related. It became the highest-grossing comedy in box office history, a title it held until "Ghostbusters" came out four years later. Remember these classic "Airplane!" quotes?
Ted: My orders came through. My squadron ships out tomorrow. We're bombing the storage depots at Daiquiri at 1800 hours. We're coming in from the north, below their radar.
Elaine: When will you be back?
Ted: I can't tell you that. It's classified.
Rumack: You'd better tell the Captain we've got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.
Elaine: A hospital? What is it?
Rumack: It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.
Captain: Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?
Rumack: Elaine, you're a member of this crew. Can you face some unpleasant facts?
[an epidemic of food poisoning is sweeping the plane]
Captain: What is it, Doctor? What's going on?
Rumack: I'm not sure. I haven't seen anything like this since the Anita Bryant concert.