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Fly the _____ Skies

Posted on Oct 6, 2008 by in Daily Life | 0 comments

What adjective comes to your mind when thinking of the domestic airlines these days?

The traditional “Friendly” (from, of course, United Airlines’ now practically generic slogan) applies when I fly on Jet Blue, Southwest, Express Jet, and the sadly out-of-business Aloha Airlines.

But this weekend I flew US Airways. My suggestion: avoid them. The people working for them are alright, but the management is clearly terrible… and it’s pretty bad when you can figure that out in a one hour flight.

I arrive at the airport, and discover that it’s $15 to check a bag. Yes, the first bag. (I know, I know … this has been happening for a little while, but it was my first experience with it.) Of course, that’s $15 each way, so it’s really a $30 surcharge on your ticket — which is essentially false pricing, and I consider it deceptive. (Think about it … you see Southwest’s fare, and US Airways’ fare … and maybe US Air looks $30 cheaper when you buy the ticket — until they scam it out of you when you arrive at the gate. And that’s assuming you don’t have 2 bags, which would be $80 roundtrip.)

This, of course, causes a huge logjam on the plane: everybody brings everything they can onto the plane. It’s like getting on one of those busses in the Third World where everyone brings their entire life with them, including their 7 children, scrawny dog, and family goat. That’s what getting on the plane felt like, because every single baggage compartment was full and overflowing, and every seat had something under it. So I sit with my feet at my chest for an hour because there’s no space for my carry-on up above. (You would think that I would get a reserved overhead spot for the $15 luggage fee, but no … nothing.)

The best part was watching them unload the luggage. We land, and I can see the luggage “handlers” outside my window. The guy at the bottom is heaving — throwing as far and rough as he can — the luggage as it comes off the belt. I’m talking a good 15 feet here. One of the bags bounces off the top of the luggage cart, and lands on the other side of the cart — only to remain there for as long as I watched. The passengers start talking about the luggage abuse, and I hear “And this is how they treat your luggage when you pay for it. Imagine what they did when it was free!”

Anyway, I won’t choose an airline again that charges for the first bag. It’s unethical. I overheard some employees of an airline talking about the policies, and they said they were at a management meeting where the execs said something like: It doesn’t matter how unpopular the policies are right now, surveys show that we’re “beating the customers down” and they’re getting used to it.

I, for one, refuse to get used to it.

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