There was an interesting article in the New York Times about the apparent decline in services, amenities and even common courtesy in the cheap seats on airplanes. OK, well, the article’s alright but they received over 400 comments on it, and the comments are where all the action is. The comments range from “I’ll never fly again” to “Get over yourselves, you get what you pay for.”
As you’ve probably guessed, Miss Expatria has her own opinions about airline travel. So fasten your seat belts and make sure your trays are in the upright and locked position, because we’re taking to the skies.
Many of the complaints had to do with the lack of or quality of the food received. OK, people. Seriously? If you’re complaining about this – especially on domestic flights! – it’s because you’re a whiner. Yes, the people in first class get real plates and real food. But they also paid $4,000 for it. Would you pay $4,000 for a better meal on a plane? No? Then pack a sandwich and pipe down. And why are you so ravenously hungry on a plane? You can’t wait a few hours and get a real meal o the ground?
I make sure I eat before hand – even on transatlantic flights – or I pick up something to bring on the plane with me. (Orly airport in Paris has the most delightful brie and walnut sandwiches, if you’re interested.)
And a side note about water. Yes, the TSA doesn’t allow you to bring liquids. Bring an EMPTY bottle and fill it up at a water fountain once you’re inside the perimeter. Or, spend the extra buck or two and buy one at the snack stands near the gates.
The most valid complaint, however, was about the tight quarters. This one I can relate to. There simply is no room. I’m not asking for my own cabin; but I’m 5’1″ and my knees shouldn’t be brushing up against ANYTHING. I really hate the lack of space.
The saddest thing about the comments, however, was the wistful desire of those who had traveled internationally for a halfway decent, cost-friendly alternative to plane travel within the United States. AmTrak could be making a killing off all of this – but instead they are turning into Dagney Taggart’s worst nightmare.
In light of this is my open letter to Bill Gates. I was inspired to write this after seeing one of the final episodes of West Wing (best show ever, by the way), in which CJ Cregg, the Chief of Staff, is approached by a Gates-type character and given $10 billion to save the world. She chooses to build roads in Africa, so that all the medical supplies we’re giving them can reach the people who need them. I’m hitting a little closer to home.
I know your foundation is doing wonderful things all around the world. But, I have a suggestion for the good ol’ U.S. of A.:
Build us some trains. Fast, efficient, on-time trains. Build a national network of trains that can get people from one place to another without all of this ridiculous hassle, fear and discomfort. Build it, and they will come.
Miss Expatria (even though I am a Mac user)