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Air travel - even less convenience and no corner left uncut

I heard a rumour that a bill may be tabled before the House of Commons proposing that airlines be “nicer” to passengers. Perhaps this may encourage my country’s airline to stop serving those awful five-dollar sandwiches straight from the freezer that could demolish anyone’s teeth, for starters.

I recently completed a transatlantic flight and do not recommend it to anyone, let alone a senior person. It is a living nightmare. You and your luggage cart – if you can find one – must squeeze through massive crowds, dodging inconsiderately strewn backpacks, parcels, baby strollers, teddy bears and balloons. You may fall flat on your face trying to avoid trash on the slippery floors, or keep from colli­ding with someone stubbornly hanging on to a mop. It’s hard to get into any washroom anywhere – you could easily have an embarrassing accident waiting, hopping up and down and praying with lineups all around – the result of poor airport design and management.

Passengers are helpless these days, and it isn’t going to improve any time soon. Flights are going to be much more expensive, many are being cut, and we are warned to book our holiday travel earlier and earlier.

My country’s airline tells us to book our tickets online, pick our seats, label our baggage, then check ourselves in at the airport. The “à la carte” pricing strategyallows picking a better seat for a fee of $10. However, in the roomier emergency-aisle row, it costs $15. In that spot, your help will be required in case of an emergency.

To get advice at the airport, they’re now planning to provide a professional helper for $35. A charge of $25 applies for one checked bag. The bottom line is that there are three types of classes from now on: business class, economy class with help and/or better seats, and third-class citizens in basic economy having to fend for themselves and show up prepared for no food, no film, and no space. Are you ready for air rage? Better smile or security may spend extra time on you, and they aren’t all that friendly at the best of times.

I heard on TV that some airlines arereducing their arrival fuel “cushion” – the extra 60 to 100 minutes worth added for safety’s sake – to cut costs, over the objections of pilots and dispatchers. Gives one a real sense of security! What if a plane has to turn back or emergency land? Just let it dive? I trust pilots won’t give in to something so dangerous – they want to live too.

Frank Sinatra’s “Come fly with me, we’ll fly, we’ll fly away” is no longer romantic – not nearly as cozy as it was once upon a time, but nostalgia will get me nowhere… Nobody really wants to fly these days, but we have little other choice unless we learn to walk on water or grow wings.

As a postscript, just a warning: landing at PET airport I observed that many taxis refuse passengers with luggage. It took me over half an hour to find one, whose driver then resented me all the way home!



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