17 Mar I hate flying. Wait. I hate what the airlines have made flying.
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.