Former U.S. Senator from New York Alfonse D’Amato Dissing An Airline. (Photo: The New York Post)
The New York Post earlier this week framed an article around an incident where former New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato encouraged fellow passengers on a long-delayed flight to deplane with him in protest. The article went on to note D’Amato was hardly alone in being upset to the point of sparking an “incident” over something to do with air travel.
In 2015, according to figures collected globally by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) passengers protested, or became unruly, no fewer than 10,854 times – a 16% increase over 2014’s incident count. Frighteningly, the 2015 incident rate is more than 950% higher than the 1994 count of 1,132 incidents!
What’s going on? What’s causing the amazing increase in “air rage” incidents?
Several things, actually. In a successful effort to cram more passengers into fewer planes, airlines have reduced the point of absurdity the “pitch” of seats – the distance between a given point on a seat and the exact same point on the seat forward or aft of it. While this isn’t, according to “the seat guru,” the exact equivalent of “leg room,” it’s usually a pretty good approximation.
To generate more revenue, back a few years ago, when jet fuel prices – like gasoline/petrol prices were going through the roof, airlines starting eliminating such long-time “freebies” as nuts, meals on all but the shortest flights, blankets and pillows, two-bag limits and whatever else they could sell instead of giving away.
While fliers have squawked to no avail, the airlines have reaped a fortune in “extra” revenue – to the point that losses incurred before and for a few years after the turn of the century are, like the freebies, a thing of the past.
Sadly, so, to an amazing degree, is consideration for passengers’ health: According to “The Credit Repair and Debt Reducer Expert’s blog,” blankets, pillows and even floors aren’t cleaned as regularly or as well as used to be the case – resulting in germs being freely spread from feet to mouths and… well, you get the picture.
Is there any (realistic) hope these issues will change, hopefully for the better, in the foreseeable future? Not really. Similarly, plane overcrowding – with less side-to-side room and even another row of seats compounding the problem.
But as The Credit Report and Debt Reducer’s blog noted, Skype and similar services have largely eliminated the need for a lot of business travel. People need learn about such options and use them.
A very successful blogger I know, no doubt in part to avoid the hassles of air travel, last year drove twice back and forth between Connecticut and Oregon – with side trips in various parts of the country – giving himself a break from the commute from his bedroom to his office, getting in touch with businesses and business people he writes about, and not having to repeatedly cram himself into a tiny plane seat. Fortunately, he did so at a time when gasoline prices were lower than they’ve been in years. But I’m betting he’ll maintain his long-distance driving routine this year, even as gas prices vacillate between low and not-too-bad.
Who’s tempted to fly these days if there’s an alternative – like not going at all, or taking the 60 mph/96.5 kph route? The latter is almost as “phoning it in” via a Skype on online chat connection!
For a couple of year, a lot of years ago, I used to be on the road – often on several flights a day – most days of two weeks (or more) every month. I can’t imagine how I managed it, in the late ’70’s-early ’80’s. I totally couldn’t now.
(An aside: For the first half of the ’70’s, I lived in London. Back then, no matter which travel option you chose – bus-to-air-to-underground-or-taxi, train-to-air-to-train, train-to-boat-to-train, the trip from London to Paris occupied the better part of a daylight day. My wife-of-three-years and I are hoping to make our first-ever real vacation be, soon, a return to London than a Eurostar (train)ride, of 2.5 hours, from Central London to Central Paris. Even having made that trip before, I will undoubtedly be nearly as amazed as she’ll be at the ‘magic’ of being able to cross under 30 miles of water (The English Channel), in next to no time, to get to a different country.)