Having finally posted, during a flight hiatus, what was written some 5-6 days ago, I come to reflect on today’s traveling habits. Other than finding connectivity.
Yes… years ago I was, like so many others were and still are today, a Sky Warrior… this meant that my travels would keep me in airplanes, airports and home-away-from-home hotels at least 60-70 % of my time. Those were days when travel meant getting away from all immediate surroundings without a trace, if that is what you wanted to do. Distances were real and communication, although good for the times, was very limited in comparison with what is available today for the common traveler, let alone a business one.
It was impossible not to compare, all throughout this trip, travel as was then (80’s into the late 90’s… OMG!!!! ... That is last century time!!!), with travel as is now. There is no need to talk about ticket price; this has gone up considerably but, in basic inflationary calculations, the increases are truly within reasonable parameters.
Measurable changes begin at the counter if there is more than one bag to take as baggage. Back then, you really had to carry the kitchen sink to generate an extra charge. Today… after the first bag, there can be an additional charge of up to $45 per bag… Forget taking the extra clothes… You know... those you take just in case you are invited to the royal wedding… or have to appear at a dinner reception for a movie star… Yeah... right!! The good side of this is that it will reduce your hotel tipping costs.
Remember the peanuts we all complained about? Well… now they are called “Spiced Nuts” and you gotta fork over $5.00 to have the pleasure of their company… A chocolate chip cookie? Hmmm! That’ll be $3.29 please… all credit cards accepted… All sandwiches run about $9-11 and they are truly undersized but then, right on the menu it says “light and fresh snacks”… and they mean this… literally.
The demeanor of the flight attendants has changed also. Theirs is a harsh lot, especially those who traverse the national skies back and forth with very little rest time available. They seem to be overly tired, often dressed in somewhat wrinkled uniforms and do not always necessarily believe in that ditty about flying friendly skies. Yes, I know this is a motto of a major carrier, but it does not mean the attendants of the other carriers should not be prone to communicate with a smile…
On my way back from Central America I was talking with a fellow traveler… he, who also did the bulk of his travel back around the same time as I, told me he was taken aback by the subtle and the not so subtle changes in his experience. Gone is the extra smile or the extra service along with the ubiquitous peanuts… in fact, all food freebies are gone. Of course, you can upgrade to business but then, the food plate will cost you a pretty good amount… Gone is the spanking clean cabin environment; it seems cleaning is done in a hurry now, just to get the bird back up in the skies … Gone are the attendants who would often take turns roaming the cabin and asking: “Is there anything else you need?... now they just come around the second time in order to pick up the empty coke cans or water glasses… excuse me, plastic cups.
For all intents and purposes the job of the flight attendant, a plum and exciting job for a young man or woman back when, has become an glamour-less, tiring, demanding and underpaid version of its old self. And it shows in their demeanor. Most of them are good people handling an increasingly stressful job but not all can manage these changes… Too bad… for them and for us.
Up are the delays due to maintenance issues, not a good sign. Two out of my four legs on this particular trip were delayed due to such ditties. Yes, the airline in question rewarded my almost 4 hour patience (as if I could walk away at a stopover location…) with a mileage gift. I rather leave on time.
These are general gripes; it is still exciting to be able to board a flying contraption that will take you to another destination, to discover anew those places and, especially, those longtime –and longtime not seen- friends who make a difference in one’s life.
For now… we have been told we are approaching our own city and I can see from up here that huge lighted arrow pointing the way to the landing strip… THIS WAY!!! It seems to scream up into the night sky… This way and welcome home…
Be Well … Be Back!!!
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