Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Air Travel 2000: Packed like flesh in a can

Seriously, does anyone like traveling by air these days? Flying was once classified as pure deluxe, with free meals, all-inclusive plane tickets and actual customer service with a smile. Long lines to the airport security screening to prove one´s innocence (Look! I´m not wearing shoes and I´m humiliated in many ways in front of strangers! Cannot be a terrorist!) were unheard of. And you could easily throw that perfume, vodka, absinthe and glide lotion into your hand baggage and walk through the gates without being harassed like a petty criminal. Not that I´m speaking of any of my past traveling escapades. This is just late night theorizing. Honestly.

So the fast-growing pyramid of extra fees just got higher last week. The "low-cost" American airline Spirit introduced fees for hand baggage. So now you cannot even go and try to cram all your life into that tiny carry-all without being sucked dry as a hard-working consumer. Let´s not get mistaken, people: there is absolutely nothing remotely relaxing or "deluxe" in being an air passenger these days. Well, maybe for first class customers (or for those lucky ones with their own private jets).

In an effort to save cash, I fell for those "always cheap" airline companies recently (The name starts with an "R". Need further hints?). There is something seriously wrong with pricing when most of the end total comes from added fees. And if that wasn´t enough, they made me pay extra baggage fee (40 eur) for the bottle of liquor I purchased at the airport. When did duty-free purchases become extra baggage?I was agitated, to say the least. After that, they inquired whether I am truly old enough to sit by the emergency exit. The minimum age is 18. I suppose anger suits me, if I am not mistaken?

Well, to cut the almost unnecessary personal ranting short, I will get to the point at hand. At last!
Have you thought of the layout of the planes and what it resembles? How tightly packed "the Pax" is? (Yes, that air pro talk for us mortals)How you cannot move, turn yourself or otherwise be comfortable? That´s because the economical design is not new. It has been borrowed from a much, much older form of travel.

Introducing slave ships, circa 1791.

And let´s have a look at the modern airplane interior seating design.

Still not sure of this? Why don´t we have a few more pictures!

And fast-forward back to the future :

Don´t get me wrong. I have absolutely nothing against anybody, I believe in peace and understanding. Slavery was, and still is, fundamentally wrong. But don´t you think it´s funny that we are paying for the privilege of being pushed together like flesh cargo on a trip to somewhere? Please, be free to share you horror tales of being a modern air slave!


Anonymous said...

It's nowhere near as bad as the slave ships, but consider this idea from China. In Airbus A380s they are considering installing these vertical backboards to "seat" belt yourself to. That way they can get 800 people in that plane instead of merely 500. Imagine that on a flight between Paris and Sydney, about 20 hours of standing. And only the midsection of the plane would be like that. I guess Ch9ina's focus group had no African Americans on it.

The slave ship does however represent "flying economy class" taken to the logical conclusion. And it was "no frills flying" at an incredibly inhumane extreme. 20 percent or more would die during the 2 month flight due to complete lack of sanitation, poor ventilation, heat, poor food nasty water, etc.

Mia said...

Thanks for commenting! I have heard of those new ideas for torture/seating. Irish cheap airline Ryanair has toyed with the idea, from what I understood. I am still not sure it will be widely passed, simply for the safety issues. But in China? Hmm..