Friday, February 8, 2013

Oh, the joys of air travel

Perhaps it's the curmudgeon in me but, seriously, can the world of business travel get much worse?  It wasn't that long ago that one actually was offered a meal on a plane--a bad meal, mind you, but a meal nonetheless.  Now, airlines begrudgingly offer drinks and perish the thought of bartering for a small bag of stale pretzels or peanuts that no one eats unless they fly more than three hours one way.

So here, once again, are some of my idle observations and musings about the world of business travel, given recent experience.

- Have you ever wondered what the guy running the carry-on luggage, x-ray machine is really looking for?  I mean, why does it take so much time to look at the innards of a Kirkwood carry-on roller bag, retail price $100?  On a recent journey, travelers were actually queued up as we all waited for our bags, laptops, and shampoos and gels (all neatly packed in a ziploc bag, as per TSA requirements), watching the agent who ran a machine that doesn't seem that hard to operate.  Speed it up, for cryin' out loud!

- The TSA agent who recently checked my license and boarding pass, before allowing me to enter security at Kansas City's airport, actually sounded like one of those World War II German train stewards--"May I see your papers, please?"  She grilled me on where I was going, whether it was business or pleasure, and if I had anything to declare.  (Okay, maybe she didn't ask me that last part but she was incredibly intimidating--I felt like if I said the wrong thing I'd be whisked into the closet detention area with the single light bulb hanging down.)

- On the positive side, I'm very appreciative of the US Airways flight attendant who purposely was getting military personnel upgraded to first class.

- I couldn't help but snicker yesterday when entering terminal C at DFW Airport and spying a Salt Lick Barbeque, Popeye's and Dickey's Barbecue, all within 100 feet of one another, with a McDonald's sandwiched in between.  Cholesterol overload, anyone?

- And, finally, we are all captive on these small and smaller tubes of flying metal.  Is it really necessary to lean your seat back as if you're in your Barcalounger at home watching the big screen?  Suck it up like the rest of us...

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhhh, air travel, my fave.

    The embodiment of the principal of slowly boiling the frog -- "we made the leg-room 1" less and nobody noticed...we made it 1" less again and nobody noticed again...(repeat). In Asia, they nare toying with the idea of standing sections...

    But TSA is the height of broken, mis-directed processes. I can't help but wonder what their evaluative or performance standards are -- they are clearly not to efficiently and safely process the maximum number of pax in as little time as possible.

    Every time I am processing through the luggage x-ray, I can't help but wonder if the TSA has ever had an Industrial Engineer, or a process analysis expert EVER look at what goes on -- tables at right angles to each other, at mis-matched heights, exit shoots that are way too short so that luggage coming out of the machine is climbing up on luggage not yet removed.

    But what probably offends me the most is the required personal de-composition. We travel enough that we go to great lengths to do so efficiently -- right bags, that stack the right way so you can move with maximum efficiency out of the car into the terminal, and all the way to and from the gates.

    But at TSA the following happens;
    - Obtain 3 plastic bins
    - Coat off
    - Sweater off
    - Unlaced (critical) shoes off
    - Belt off (my fave)
    - License removed from Wallet
    - Wallet & Paper cash stowed
    - Cell Stowed
    - Coin removed from pockets and stowed
    - License and ticket temporarily in pocket
    - Computer in bin
    - CPAP un-packed from case & in bin
    - Form 3 trays & two pieces of luggage into "wagon train" and marshall through the machine
    - Wait for the person in front of you to go back through the third time ("what do you mean I can't carry on my hand gun?")
    - Get out of the way of the flight crew member who needs to go through -- after all, their time is valuable
    - Put license and ticket in hands over your head
    - Smile
    - Reverse entire process -- long way to gates

    Finally keep in mind that an aircraft -- on ground or in flight -- is the only place in the US where terrible service (by them) can get YOU arrested. Go ahead and lip-off to that Flight attendant with the "attitude", see where that gets you.

    Tom Weigman