FLY THE UNFRIENDLY SKIES
We'll help make it tolerable, at least understandable. Seeing amazing places and having great experiences is worth the hassle inherent in flying today.
Remember that popular airline commercial, "Fly the Friendly Skies." Remember the 60's when flying was fun, glamorous even? Those Pan Am flights of well dressed people seeing the world, while being served on real china complementary food and beverages? Am I the only one whose family's weekend entertainment might be going to the airport to watch flights come in and out, and dining in the airport restaurant? Of course those were the days before deregulation. There were many carriers with unaffordable prices, there was no TSA. What security? After dinner, many of those people on that glamorous Pan Am flight lit their cigarettes. My how things have changed. Let's not get all nostalgic and long for the good old days. I'm sad we need security, but I'm glad we have it. Now however, flying is not glamorous or even fun. If you want to go to amazing places and have incredible life experiences, flying is just part of the pain to get to the gain. The latest version of the 737's are rolling off the lines at Boeing, and all the major airlines are buying them. Why wouldn't they? They are 14% more fuel efficient. They have an increased range of 600 miles, and they seat 12 more passengers. Oh, they didn't get bigger. The bathrooms, the overhead bins, and the seat spacing all decreased even more. Seriously, I'm not real big, and I can't imagine those bathrooms being usable if they are much smaller. What are people supposed to do on long flights? Not only are spaces tighter, today's flights are on average 85% full, so forget about getting empty seats to spread out. While airlines were once struggling to survive, today they are generally reaping huge profits. Baggage and other fees make flying for us confusing, and for them profitable. Airlines like Wow, Frontier, and Spirit, have on the surface very low rates, but by the time you add all the fees to get to the real price, it's no real bargain. They have an economy reputation, but on traveler surveys they turn out to be no real bargain as they are among the lowest rated carriers. If you don't fly a lot, you may not be aware that there is not just a choice of coach and first class. There is Business Class, and even in coach there are generally 3 choices; Basic Economy, Standard Economy, and Enhanced Economy (or Premium Economy). Standard Economy of course is not standard and comes at a cost as does Enhanced Economy. In Basic Economy you may not have a choice of seats or even be allowed a free carry-on. Are you tall and need a few more inches? Your going to need to pay at least for Standard Economy. In Enhanced Economy or you might get priority boarding (the chance to get on the plane early and spend more time there). You may also get first shot at purchasing flight upgrades. Unless your uber rich or have accumulated a very high flight status, forget about those comfy lay-down seats on international flights. They cost thousands more not hundreds. One thing you can do is have an airline branded credit card. Some will give you two free checked bags and an improved boarding position. If you fly a lot, you may even want to get travel card with a high annual fee. They can come with a significant annual travel credit, access to airport lounges, and the first shot at free upgrades. You may want to check on apps like Seat Guru which helps you secure the best seat value. If you are flying and booking on your own, check regularly on websites like Google Flights, Kayak, and Orbitz. Flight costs are constantly changing. Google Flights will even give you alerts if your flight cost changes to your target budget. While flying is not the highlight of any trip, we are obviously believers that it's well worth reaching that runway far away to to see, do, taste, explore, and experience. If you want to hit the "Easy Button" go with us. Our flight expert (Rhonda) can't work miracles, but will try to make getting there as easy as it can be in the age of unfriendly skies, small seats, and tiny toilets.
Epilogue: Tragically, days after I wrote this article a Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed in Ethiopia killing 157 people. Statistically flying remains far safer than driving and there are many amazing places to fly.
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