News & Politics QotW: The Unfriendly Skies

This past year has been called "the worst year ever for U.S. airlines." What has your experience with the airlines been like when you've traveled in recent months?

How do you answer this question?  Where do I start?  My experiences have been everything from barely sufferable to downright miserable.  Between idiotic and despotic security regulations to poor service on the actual plane to inconsistent standards and practices within the airlines themselves, traveling has become a waking nightmare.

Recently, I flew Northwest from L.A. to Oklahoma City, with a plane change in Memphis.  I was carrying a small backpack with a padded compartment for a laptop, which was inside.   When boarding the plane  in Memphis, the gate staff told me that I would have to check the bag.  When I explained about the laptop, I was told to remove it and carry it on board by itself. During takeoff and landing, the flight attendant told me I would have to put my laptop, unprotected, in the overhead bin and that if I was worried about damage I should have gotten a case for it.  When I explained that I had a case and had been told to check it, I was told not to make a fuss and just put the laptop away.

On the return flight, I was able to carry my backpack aboard with no problems.

Other airlines are no better.  I have had lost luggage, delayed flights (due to mistakes, not weather or other uncontrollable events), patronizing, useless staff, impatient and rude security personnel, and just general inconvenience after inconvenience.  It seems the airlines have forgotten that passengers are paying customers, especially in their hub areas where it is more difficult to get competing flights.

Something should be done, but, unfortunately, no one seems to have any answers.  For myself, I fail to understand why the U.S. does not build a network of high speed trains across the country.  It seems somewhat ridiculous to fly from Oklahoma City to Memphis, which is about a five hour drive.  A bullet train could make it in three, and, while a plane makes it in an hour and change, by the time you have to check in and go through security, you're right back at five hours.

Build trains and stop flying so much.  That's it.

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