Flying used to be an adventure. You got dressed up and the entire family went somewhere. It was certainly better than piling in the family station wagon with a dog, a bird, a turtle or two, a dog and a sister.
But today, it's now 6:30 p.m. I started working my way home from the East Coast 12 hours ago. And certainly, this isn't my first adventure with flying. I fly a lot. At least a lot compared to the average person. I don't pay for first class. I don't book $1,500 tickets at the last minute. I am often paying for my own travel to national conventions or being subsidized by this non-profit or the other. I fly coach. And I'll take the middle seat, as I did today, but I won't be happy about it.
Now, before I go any farther, let me put a couple things on the table. I detest the Transportation Security Administration more than the airlines. See "Passengers: You too can make flying less miserable." And my favorite airline was Southwest Airlines. In more than a decade of using SWA as my primary carrier, only once did that airline fail to get me where I was going the day I needed to be there. Even today, in Philadelphia, when other airlines were having "weather" issues and "mechanical" issues, Southwest was flying. On time. Full.
But now, I live and work in a monopoly city, a city with only one airline: American Airlines.
I miss the cattle call of Southwest. I miss the free drinks and getting to know new folks over a few free-drink coupons. I miss getting where I needed to go, on time, with little hassle.
Today was nothing but hassle.
It started with the monopoly-making merger of American Airlines and US Airways when US Airways canceled my flight from Providence to Philadelphia. It's a long story, and one that I intend to let the CEO at American Airlines, Doug Parker, know about at every turn. Indeed, I've offered on multiple occasions to give him a 30-day vacation. Let me run the airlines with a team of customers. He'd come home to a new, customer-focused airline.
For now, however, I'll just continue my American Airlines diary and hope we get out of here at some reasonable hour.