The Trouble With Travel: Flying and Failing

I’m starting a new series on travel.  As a software sales engineer covering the US Air Force, I have the “pleasure” of traveling frequently.  So many of the frustrations I endure on a regular basis have become normal for me and I often forget just how irritated many people would be in the same situations if they had not become jaded with travel.  The first few business trips I endeavored on were amazing.  I grew up in the Southeast United States and I have never been out of a radius of Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, and Georgia.  Seeing new places and meeting new people and seeing just how much difference there is in culture when you travel only a short distance from home, made me eager to get out of the office more.  Over the years, my career moves have required more and more travel to the point where travel is now the major aspect of my job.  The fun has waned and now, every trip feels very much like work.

Air travel is a huge frustration for me.  It is the worst part of many of my travels, as it appears to be for most frequent travelers.  I have status on a couple of airlines and rarely get upgraded.  When I do, I don’t quite understand the thrills.  I forget that my children have never flown and my wife flies infrequently.  While we were driving home from our martial arts class one day last week, I was complaining about some of the usual frustrations that accompany travel, particularly in the air, and I noticed that my wife and children were laughing.  My venting was becoming quite humorous to the family.  I was recalling a trip recently where I was sitting against the window on a row of three seats and the guy next to me was falling asleep and drifting into my seat.  I repeatedly pushed him over onto the guy to the left of him.  This was on a 5 hour flight, so I was pretty annoyed by the time we landed.  I am usually somewhat passive aggressive, so I dealt with this issue in my usual way.  I would shove the guy over and that would make the guy next to him jump.  When the little guy next to him jumped, he thought it was the guy to his left waking him up and not me.  That was the only satisfaction I had in the matter.

Rolls-Royce Trent XWB on the Airbus A350-941 (reg. F-WWCF, MSN 002) in Airbus promotional CFRP livery at ILA Berlin Air Show 2016.

There have been various reports in the news lately of airline issues with both passengers and stewards.  The airlines treat us like livestock and they have actually convinced us that first class is majorly different than economy.  It is only better because it sucks a little less, to be frank. A couple of weeks ago, I heard about an incident where a steward got on the loud speaker, complained to the passengers about how one of them acted disrespectfully, then ejected the air ramp and exited the plan after grabbing a beer from the fridge.  He was later arrested.  Today, the buzz is about passengers who are becoming angry when they are told there is no room for them because the airline overbooked a flight.  It is happening more and more often.  These companies know that they can continue this treatment of their clientele because we only have so many options, and they all are equally disappointing.

Tomorrow morning I wake early to head to the local airport to begin my next trip.  I am hoping that it is a good day.  I was upgraded to first class for one of my flights, but I have already said that I am less than impressed with first class.  Getting an upgrade to first class is like being offered a cold soft drink instead of a hot one.  It tastes so much better, but it is still just a soft drink.  Next week, I am hopping around a few different states, so that will certainly be an interesting week.  I cannot wait to see how that goes.  What are your thoughts on air travel?  What would increase your satisfaction with airlines?  I look forward to your opinions.