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Paying a Price for 8 Days of Flying in America

To understand the forces defining air travel in America today, I spent eight days crisscrossing the country in economy class. Four airlines. Twelve flights (half of them delayed). Twelve cities. Twelve cups of tomato juice. Three trips through whole-body scanners. One alarming use of the words “groin area.” ( More...

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ToddBaldwin3 9
Interesting story, thank you. Welcome to my world. When I travel for work, I'm required to fly coach. If I want to upgrade, I have to pay for it, and it is not encouraged.
paul trubits 11
Try SWA if you can. It sucks less.
m f 1
Neither of her Delta flights we bad either. Delta, SWA and Virgin are only airlines I am willing to fly anymore.
m f 1
*were... is there a way to edit comments on mobile?
mdburd 2
If you're paying for the upgrade--and not simply on your corporate travel card; who the hell cares if it's "encouraged" or not?

My company has a flight time band system for whether coach, business or first are reimbursable expenses--but no matter what they'll reimburse me for, I pay the first class fare and am reimbursed for the appropriate band--that's just a personal choice.
How true, having just flown through Phoenix the food prices were very high.
Dave Fisher -1
and it's not really food!
joel wiley 2
A matter of opinion. It usually passes Sacthel's "is this food?" test. Usually
Ron Lorenz 1
The in flight food reminds me of the first tv dinners that came out in the 50s!
The only thing you could say about them were, They were editable!
m f 1
You haven't had business class food lately have you? It's quite good, on Delta at least.
mdburd 7
Amazing; this pretentious fool peppers her story with pompous phrasing like "sadomasochistic pas de deux" and how "soul-destroying" it is to fly in coach--all the while dismissing her bad behavior (sitting in the wrong seat, blaming another; lying to an agent about being late for a connection, etc.) as somehow acceptable because she's had it rough during her personally selected flights.
Duane Mader 1
Cost is almost always the single biggest factor in why people chose a flight but then they covet thy neighbor's seat in first class. I'd like to see the author have to do any of the skilled tasks that go into making an airline fly. Heck I'd like to see her make a better chicken sandwich than Chick-Fil-A.
John Kliewer -1
Nice try Duane. Cost is not the single biggest factor in why people choose a flight. The biggest single factor in choosing a flight is the destination. The airline industry has rigged a non competitive system of hubs and spokes with each of the majors owning a hub or two and therefore not having to compete. Depending on the destination, I, and you also are practically bound to choosing an airline based on where you want to go, not based on price or heavens forbid, a pleasant airline experience.

I'd like to see the airline industry as a whole, not the author, "do the skilled tasks that go into making an airline fly" the way airlines are supposed to fly. It begins with regarding the passenger as a human customer.
Duane Mader 3
Yeah, people rarely book flights to destinations they don't want want to go to.
Once they have that figured out they give the interwebs a workout to find the best deal.
With, like, 700 million + emplaned on domestic flights and almost zero accidents, I'd say a lot of skill went into making that happen. Thunderstorms were dodged, icing was dealt with, brakes were changed, engine trends monitored and maintenance tracked and performed. Even the baggage tracking system is a marvel albeit not perfect.
A little golden rule on both sides of the fence would help with the high profile conflicts that make the news. The author's example means that maybe she likes to be lied to and manipulated?
btweston -4
Congratulations. You missed the entire point of the article.

But you're right. A professional writer utilizing a vocabulary is absolutely worthy of a nasty anonymous internet comment.
m f 5
Was she being ironic? I honestly thought she was being pompous until I read your comment.

Honestly some of the blame falls on passengers for the misery of flying and this article is proof. The author acts like a child for 8 days and you call her professional...
Argo Ron 6
I loved it, thank you. If the food in the airports gets any more expensive , I will have to ask if I can finance it....😩
DanWardlaw 2
Second to 3rd Flight, 6th to 9th & Delta 1460 were all the wrong flight #'s. I know they change flight numbers but wow! If you're going to tell a story at least make it believable.
btweston -1
Who cares what the flight numbers are? Like seriously, who cares?
m f 4
It's about professionalism and taking pride in your work as a journalist.
VKSheridan 2
I fly almost weekly to various cities as part of my job. Last year alone I flew on at least 130 different aircraft. Although delays, slow TSA and overbooked flights were relatively common, I seriously doubt this "reporter" had to endure every cliche example of flight frustration by hopping such a lowly handful of flights. It makes for good affirmation to the skeptics but that's about it.....
John Kliewer 3
VK, not as frequent and airline flyer as you, I do frequently airline with another crew member to and from where we last parked the company's corporate aircraft. Based on that experience over the years it is easy for me to believe that she "had to endure every cliche example of flight frustration by hopping such a lowly handful of flights."

If you are one of those who boards from the "preferred customer" lines I understand why you don't share the vitriol against the airlines. I frequently board from the preferred lines but even that does not pale in quality experience compared to what steerage used to be like in the "good old days", but then again I am nearing 69 years old and remember when airline customers were treated like customers, not like nuisances or worse.
VKSheridan 4
No disagreement on the quality of service. The industry has degraded to being nothing more than a "bus with wings" in many cases. I'm only 54 and have done most of my traveling in the past ten years. Some years I got elite status and that extra inch of leg room and some years, I boarded with the rest. I have a zillion stories of bad airline employees, TSA personnel, passenger behavior and poor aircraft conditions. All I'm saying is I find it extremely unlikely she encountered all those situations short of going out of her way to create them..... Happy Father's Day to you sir! Cheers!
CharlesRamsey 1
Ah, the good old days, regularly flew (Economy) BEA London to Paris then AF Connies Paris to Dakar! Cooked meals served on China plates w/silver cutlery, visits to the cockpit, every service on request...& Courtesy? Oh Yeah! Guess that ages me...those days Looong Gone..."Modern" Economy Commercial Air Travel akin to being herded like cattle..."Security" playing the role of the electric prodder! With a few exceptions, Most of it is disturbingly unprofessional & Unnecessarily demeaning to passengers...So to be avoided...other than when unfortunately "unavoidable"!
Robert Black 2
What a mess. I call commercial flying these days as a refined form of torture. I won't do it unless there's no viable alternative, such as a cross-country trip.
Ed Merriam 2
like the health insurers, they can only act the way they've been because of their captive market

foreign competition might put a dent in the service gap, but without HSR it's still a malformed system where planes have to be dedicated to short, money-losing hops to keep the hubs supplied with passengers
joel wiley 1
'Refined' may imply a certain goal for making the torture worse.
The result is more likely due to disregard for clients, misfeasance, nonfeasance, rather than malfeasance.
mike SUT 2
Yes...because WE ALL travel with this type of plan in mind, criss-crossing the country for a week, minimal layovers in cities etc etc. Don't blame the airline system for unwashed hair for a week....that was YOUR choice. Little lesson on pressurization. Things packed or bottled at a lower altitude than the cabin altitude will force their "innards" out when at cruise altitude (cabin usually at around 7-8000 feet at 350-410. That's why it is always better to punch the tinfoil with your plastic fork to release the pressure....but then again you knew that because you are an experienced passenger. Another fine article. Can't believe I read most of it.
katty wompus 2
Looking at the flight times, she had more than enough time to wash her hair (and the rest of her snooty self too) a few times.

A pampered Manhattanite whining when she isn't pampered for free.
Robert Graff 2
It reminds me of that "documentary" in which the guy eats only McDonald's for a month. Surprise: he gets sick.
btweston 1
So... McDonald's is good for you?
m f 1
That's not the point.
Without any status it can be very frustrating. Her experience was a bit extreme, but not all that far off the mark.
NX211 1
The author.. Yeah.. she's gotta be a New Yorker..
John Kilcher 2
In sweats, no less.
Argo Ron 1
Yes in sweats. Pretty girl ,but the sweats really looked horrible. Definitely not a slave to the fashion industry.
btweston 1
You talk about your mother that way?
m f 2
If she wears a onesie to the airport... yes...
btweston 1
Not for nothing, but it's usually obese midwesterners who ride around on airplanes in sweatpants.
btweston 0
Thank you for your story. But, I must say, I hated you at the end when you described your flatbed seat knowing I will never be there. American Airlines just gave me the worst experience I've ever had on a flight from Philadelphia to Boston that took TEN HOURS!! I could have driven there and back in less time and for less money. For me, Jet Blue has been the most tolerable. AA: NEVER AGAIN!

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

John Kilcher 0
Sucks to be you.


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