Friday, December 07, 2012

Oh So Blue

And as a final stupid mistake, as of January 7, 2013, Jet Blue will discontinue the always full, 7am flight from Burbank to JFK.  This  blob might appear cranky, until you think about the loss of personal freedom, and the loss of a  sense of humor when you have go somewhere, especially by air.  On the way to the airport  (a few hours too early,) we were reminiscing about travel in the " old"  days.  It was nicer. If you went first class, you were treated like a first class passenger. The food was intriguing, the drinks flowing, the cabin attendants good humored.  It was a time when, if you wanted to change a ticket, or even the name on a ticket, it was possible, without being charged a  fee or being tagged a terrorist.

In times of yore, there were many options for airline choice.  Often one, two or three, airlines  flew to the same place. They competed for business. They tried to make their clients happy, because than they could count on return business. It was lovely to be treated like a welcome customer, as opposed to an inconvenient interruption.  Those were years when you looked forward to travel, rather than dreading the next adventure.

When I look in the mirror, it's hard for me to recognize the "cowboy" that once was me. There were times when I traveled to and from an airport, 2 or more times a week. On a number of occasions, (especially during campaigns or when I worked in government), there was as little as five minutes between flights. Either you would have to race for the plane or sometimes, the airline would hold the second plane until you got to the gate.  Flying  was a civilized way to go from one place to the other.  

Let's go back to the cowboy thing. When I needed to travel, either for work or pleasure, I made my travel arrangements, (I was one of those people who did it myself because so many travel consultants never accounted for time changes, or the quickest rather than cheapest way to go.)  I arranged for cabs and interim transit options. I carried one bag in which I rolled ( yes rolled) mostly black pants, skirts, sweater, clothes appropriate to the weather and a jacket. On occasion, I worked in a splash of color with a shirt or jewelry. I never thought about how long the trip would be and how the schedule would be defined. I just went wherever I wanted or needed to be.  

That doesn't happen anymore.  It can't.  The world and commerce have changed. Everyone knows this but let's vent together. There are so many rules and regulations that a person can't just get up and go. You have to pack liquids in small bottles separate from medication, sharp utensils, and electronic equipment. Security is so intrusive that arriving at an airport with less than an hour to gate to your gate, means you may not make the flight. Food and drink, even pillows and blankets need to be purchased.  The last thing you would want to do in these days of bed bugs and disease, is to use something a stranger (god knows what they touched), has already used.  We despise germs, inconvenience, people who never travel, and  the escalated costs of everything.  Especially when they are ridiculous. When my mother died on the west coast, and we were burying her on the east coast, the airlines charged us for her body as cargo, and they also charged her for a seat. This would be funny if you were making up a story, but not when it's true.

Anyway, I wanted to see if there was even an essence of cowboy left. So I flew across the country to work for two and a half days. It was not without incident but I vowed I would not overreact to foolish events, and I would not suffer a time change -- I never changed by watch. Of course, the time did change and I was not going to miss evening meetings by going to sleep on eastern time. Here's what I learned:  Jet Blue is still the only reasonable domestic airline, (cost, service, and attitude). It is comforting to find out that I can still be a cowboy.  I function far better on California time than I do on NY time.  
And most importantly, travel, thanks to homeland security and expensive airlines,  is no longer something I want to do.  We’re just sayin’... Iris

1 comment:

Eric Rose said...

As with most things in a capitalist society, the consumer gets exactly what they deserve. WalMart trained people to expect cheap cheap cheap and who cares about the quality. Once the airline industry was deregulated it was a race to the bottom. Airfares, quality of service, attitude and choice. The only way the airlines could reintroduce the service and experience we enjoyed in the 70's is to raise the airfares to something that would provide the airlines the revenue that would pay for such things.