Flying Through Hell

By Tony Moorby March 28, 2024

The thought of air travel these days fills me with dread. For a start, the concerns over equipment safety are all pervading, given that Boeing has recently had several failures in either design or manufacture. Couple that with increases in service and maintenance costs, you have to wonder how well the functions are being attended to, behind the scenes away from the slick operations of the terminal aprons.

I’ve been on several flights recently when the plane has been delayed for a mechanical issue or even cancelled because the necessary parts aren’t available! If that itinerary involves a connection it can screw up all kinds of arrangements. I recently flew from Savannah to Indianapolis via Charlotte – a trip that was scheduled to take five hours, including the layover – ended up taking twelve. The airplane that was supposed to take the second leg was withdrawn from service due to ‘hydraulic brake failure’ and we had to deplane from its replacement (which, by the way was miles away in another terminal) because of another repairable service issue. I think I walked further that trip than I actually flew.

The weather is another concern; apart from the obvious avoidance of storms but the later in the day that you book a flight, the more you run the risk of delays through the hub and spoke design of airline routes, the efficiency of each flight being entirely dependent on the success of the prior one. Dominoes come to mind.

Then there are the people. Manners are as rare as hens’ teeth and tempers are stretched to the point of violence. Airport staff has gone from servile to surly, with the TSA staff setting about as bad an example as you can imagine. I recognize that they have to deal with all kinds of folks and circumstances and varying levels of travel knowledge or dexterity but officious, bullying attitudes don’t help. It seems that any authority figures these days want to take their station to extremes. 

Mind you, the public they have to deal with seems to be getting more raucous and rowdy than ever. Any airport gate in the boarding process looks like the Bar Room scene from Star Wars, despite efforts to line people up in an orderly fashion. Have you noticed that people form lines across the terminal walkways instead of parallel? Even Southwest Airlines’ A-B-C, 1-60 boarding format can look like a rugby scrum.

The airlines have universally, financially incentivized people not to check their bags, so overhead compartments are now coveted real estate, with loading and unloading something akin to a blood sport!

The terminal walkways look more like a Ben Hur chariot race with “roll-along” cases in all shapes and sizes being the weapons of choice. Packing skills are astonishing when it comes to getting a quart into pint pot; one of my daughters has the facility to pack a whole wardrobe full of a week’s worth of ‘essentials’ into something that used to be described as an overnight bag! Charles Atlas would have trouble hoisting it into the overhead cubbyhole.

After pulling up to the gate, folks immediately vacate their seats and uncomfortably jockey and vie for a position on the aisle for a speedier exit. Really? I know the seats are not comfortable (and becoming less so) but better to stay put while people ahead have more room to negotiate their unloading, hoping that folks behind you would afford you the same courtesy – don’t hold your breath!

These days I prefer to travel in my car but as I now live on the southeast coast I invariably need to deal with Atlanta. You know what they say, “If you want to get to hell, you have to go through Atlanta.”


Last modified on Thursday, 28 March 2024 16:39