I recently heard Bill Gates answering the question “how does being the richest man in the world effect your life?” At one point in his answer he got a wistful look on his face and said something like “Air travel. Air travel is really nice.” I can only imagine. The man has a very cool, very fast private jet. I suspect that it has a staff on board that tends to his needs in a personal way. I also suspect that he doesn’t go through the same security lanes that the rest of us go through either.
For most of us, air travel is not as much fun as it used to be. Check in is one of the few areas that have gotten better in my opinion. I like checking in with the machines and even if I check bags it goes pretty smoothly. Although having to pay extra for my bags to fly makes that less pleasant.
But then there is airport security. I try to be nice and most of the TSA agents try very hard to be nice as well. It’s not really their fault that the lines are long, that we have to take off our shoes, and that in some terminals we have to stand in front of these “x-ray” scanners. But the fact is that every time I wait on one of those lines and go through the hassle of making sure I can get through on one pass I think to myself “the terrorists have won another victory.”
This is especially true for people traveling with small children and babies by the way. I saw one family, whose first language was clearly not English, get so totally frazzled by everything they were going through that they left their baby behind in its stroller! Once they realized this the father ran panic stricken back to get the baby. This caused some concern on the part of the TSAs who were not aware of what was going on for a second. Big win for the terrorists in my book!
And then boarding the plane. Oh my goodness, rather than charge for checked bags can we charge for carry on bags? Really, some people have bags that are too large for overhead compartments. Even many of the people who have reasonable ones take forever to put them away. How about we make people pay extra for bags that don’t fit under the seat in front of you and check bags for free? Or just find a way to charge extra for being an idiot. Airlines would make a fortune on charging idiots more as a penalty for holding the rest of us up.
Its as bad unloading as well. People pull bags down with no concern for who might get hit by them. Or worse still (in my book) the wait until everyone in front of them has moved down the plane to start getting their stuff together. Not bad if they don’t step into the aisle and hold others up but you know what happens. Of course they step into the aisle and everyone behind them who is ready to move is delayed.
And don’t get me started on seats that are too small, passengers beside you who are too large, no foot room, and crying babies in front of you and seat kicking children in the seat behind you. Or cancelled flights, air traffic delays, and connections you could have made if they’d held the plane open a few more minutes.
Yeah, if I were really rich the one thing I would want to change the most is how I did air travel.