Friday, July 11, 2008

What's Next, Fly Naked?

Vacation anyone? Not so fast, better have some extra dollars at your expense if you're flying. Today's economy has totally destroyed what used to be a great way to travel from one destination to another. The safest way to travel has quickly become the most expensive as well.

Spring, 1985 I boarded a plane for the first time en route to our Nation's Capital. My aunt, little cousin and I sat anxiously aboard the Eastern Airline MD 180 plane as we look forward to rendezvousing with our other family members who started their travel via Amtrak the night before. We checked several bags, which they lost, and carried on a few items. We were serviced with beverages and peanuts during our flight. I had a great time, other than being stranded without clothes for a day at the age of eleven. I have been a fan of air travel ever since. However, the Airline Industry has changed drastically since then.

Back in the day when you flew, you were given several beverages and a full meal during your flight. Well as inflation does what it is supposed to do; inflate, the airlines cut out the "free" meals and began charging for meals. My airline of choice "Delta" offers several different deli style sandwiches and chips at nominal prices. You may however purchase your own meal from the terminal and bring it aboard. That's a good thing and a compromise to the meals for purchase option.

After 9/11 the price for flights went up for obvious reasons. Flights now employ Air Marshalls to police the airways from terrorists prompting higher flight rates to cover salaries. I don't mind this at all, but now with the rising fuel costs the airlines have taken complete leave of their senses. I understand that it costs more to operate the flights now and carrying less weight burns less fuel but recent additions have turned me off from my dreams of Soaring the wild blue yonder.

A few months ago, Airlines announced fees for checking your second bag. So forget about packing your shoes in one bag and clothes and toiletries in another or taking multiple outfits for variety. Better learn how to survive on bare minimums and get used to wearing those jeans more than once. It was bad enough they limited our liquid usage down to a few ounces forcing us to pour that much need contact lens solution and moisturizer into little plastic containers, and charging overweight people for two seats as to not inconvience others. Nnow they expect us to survive with 3 outfits and a pair of shoes by charging us $25 to check a second bag. Dang. I always take two bags and a carry on. Now I have to scale back to one bag and a carry on with a personal item ie; purse, laptop, pet etc.

Just when air travelers were getting used to the idea of either chucking up the $25 or carrying one bag, US Airways announced today that they will now charge $15 for the first checked bag! WTF. Are we expected to vacate with no luggage? And the bags have to weigh less than 40 lbs. Come on already. Just how much can you get in a carry on bag anyway? Not much and if you happen to be overweight the extra fabric to make your clothes limits you to two outfits! Just where is all this extra money supposed to come from? We are already paying the base price, the booking fee, the taxes and transaction fees, now they want us to pay to take luggage? A flight with a base price of $378 ends up being $498.00 after all the fees and two checked bags. Oops that's wrong. I forgot to add the price to check the bags on the return flight, so add another $40 to that. Am I missing the line for the free money handouts to pay these prices or did they fall and smack their heads on the runway?

Someone please tell these people that we , the American People, can't afford such as this. I guess I will have to vacation in the backyard as I blogged earlier.

Check out US Airways explanation of new fees:

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