Friday, April 17, 2015

1473 Are We There Yet?

Each report on air travel is worse than the one before.  If flying ever was worth the effort, it certainly hasn’t been lately.

Jimmy Carter’s deregulation did what deregulation always does, it turned order into chaos.  What was supposed to spur competition has all but eliminated it.

We locked the horse out of the barn after 9/11, and that’s more or less understandable.  But the way passengers are treated?  That’s neither understandable nor is it worth the sucker’s price you paid for your “seat.”

And speaking of airplane seats, you know where they get those new anorexia chairs? From companies that recall infant car seats because they’re too big or otherwise compromised.  Anyone wider than a fishing pole or taller than a yardstick gets to ride in the world’s greatest source of self inflicted physical discomfort.

You pay extra for:

--checked baggage.
--four extra inches of legroom (when available)
--WiFi (when available)
--Some form of taxation you never heard of (and usually don’t notice.)
--Some form of taxation you have heard of. (always available.)
--Food service consisting of microscopic leftovers from soup kitchens.
--Beverage service with its patented warm coke, warm orange juice, warm bottled water, milk on the edge of sour and booze they get the same place they get their food.

If you have a metal knee or hip, you’d better bring a notarized letter from your doctor on your way through the metal detector.  If you’re wearing a sari, a dashiki or hijab, you’re sure to be seated next to an undercover TSA cop.

If you live in flyover country, there are no nonstop flights to anywhere.  If you live in a major city, yours will be number seven in a line of eight flights awaiting assignment to a runway.

When, eventually, you reach your destination, your plane will be late. Your suitcase will be lost.  You’ll be hungry, tired, dehydrated and a carrier of whatever disease the coughing guy in the next row is spreading.

But it’s not just planes.  It’s also trains.  You’ll ask yourself “will we hit a freight train with 150 cars heading for a toxic waste dump or an oil storage farm?

Or “How late will we be?” Even if you leave on time.

And then there are buses:  you know, those large vehicles with drivers who can’t read maximum height signs on the bridges they try to cross under?  Who can turn a two hour road trip into a five hour road trip and still break the speed limit by half?

And a car isn’t always the best bet, either.  Even though every state is crying poverty, every highway has single lane traffic at a crawl through construction zones.  And bad lighting. And blind intersections. And blind curves.

The days of the great ocean liners is well past. Instead we have floating cities called cruise ships.  You take your chances of contracting some evil affliction, being banned from your toilet and one of the six Versailles-like dining rooms, or being pushed overboard in your wheelchair.

So the answer to “are we there yet?” is “only if we’re not going anywhere.”

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015

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