AIRLINES TO CHARGE FOR OXYGEN NEXT?
GREED AND GOVERNMENTS HAVE TAKEN FUN OUT OF TRAVEL
Travel is overrated. Stay home. Keep away from airline sharks.
That’s the advice of this seasoned global traveler. Lest you want to be abused by airlines and governments.
Why? Because Greed is spreading like cancer throughout the western travel industry. In Europe, some airlines are already charging 3 Euros (US$ 4.00) for even the most basic of necessities, such as water. And certain airport Starbucks are having the audacity to ask even more for H2O. For example, 3.90 Euros (US$ 5.30) in Brussels.
What will come next? Extra charges for oxygen the passengers breathe on board?
So unless we want to become the victims of Greed cancer, the simplest solution is abstinence from all except the most essential air travel.
That’s an advice coming from someone who has traveled several million miles around the world on just about every major airline created by man. And by just about any other modes of transportation imaginable, including on horseback and on foot.
No mas. No more. Basta. Enough is enough. Starve the sharks.
Elizabeth and I are just back from another long jaunt – a 22,000-mile round trip from from Maui to Arizona to Europe and back. And our experiences, while exhilarating in many respects, such as the geomantic intuitions and revelations about our past lifetimes there, have merely reaffirmed this belief.
No mas. No more. Basta. Enough is enough. Starve the sharks.
“I am not planning to back to Europe again in this lifetime, if I can help it,” I said to Elizabeth upon our return.
“Me neither,” she agreed.
“Getting there is half the fun” (was an old Cunard Lines slogan). At the time, half a century ago, popular crooners like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin even sang about the fun of flying.
But those days are long gone. What’s left 13 years after 9/11 is an insatiable greed by airlines – yes, the very companies whom we, the US taxpayers, bailed out after 9/11. And also the ever increasing intrusion into our private lives by governments.
(TSA screening in the US, for example, while repugnant, is quite benign compared to the treatment a passenger can expect from the “Nazis” at London Heathrow security checkpoints, for example).
TOO MANY HASSLES
Plus, Europe is simply too crowded. The old cities are not equipped to handle the industrial era transportation. Which leads to constant frustration both by locals and the visitors. There are just too many hassles. Take a look at this Madrid traffic scene on a Saturday!
Like the pearl divers, foreign travelers have to work too hard to find a precious pearls in an oyster shell. In the end, it’s just not worth it. There are different ways of seeing a pearl without going through a logistical nightmare. The Internet is one of them. (When it works, I know). 🙂
But “necessity is a mother of invention,” they say. We have also seen some rather creative solutions to traffic congestion. Like this communal “bike-bus” in Madrid, where all passengers pedal together.
On the other hand, GREED has also entered the ground transportation domain. Not just because of high fuel costs (we paid on average of about US$ 7.23 per gallon of diesel during our 2,400-km drive in Spain).
Do you want to know how much I paid for 15-hours of overnight parking in a public garage near our Madrid hotel? (most hotels in big cities offer no private parking facilities). Guess how much based on American parking fees? And then probably double it.
Okay, I’ll tell you. It was 32 Euros (US$44). Nearly US$ 3 per hour. And that was in a “cheaper” garage, according to the hotel porter.
Plus, no credit cards were accepted by the garage automat. And no change given from a 50-Euro bill. And no human to talk to. Only the stupid automat which would not release your car unless you had the right change.
“Getting there is half the fun?” What if you even can’t get started?
For the sake of brevity, I will spare you the many, many travel incidents that eventually culminated in this bottom line: Never again! (to Europe).
It’s not like domestic travel is a bed of roses, either. Lest we forget, this is where greed and no frills travel started. But first, the US taxpayers were asked by the government after 9/11 to shell out at least $15 billion in bailout funds to various supposedly “ailing” airlines.
And how did these airlines express their gratitude after they recovered? By gouging the American traveler more than ever.
As a frequent traveler from Phoenix to Los Angeles, I remember paying around $170 for a round trip fare before we moved to Hawaii in 2009. Some discount airlines even offered $50-$75 one way fares under special conditions.
When I went to book our European trip this spring, however, I was absolutely shocked to find out that the average fares have more than doubled in the last five year.
Here’s a sample of today’s quotes:
United 1h 25 m from $413
So I tried to use my American Airlines miles to buy our PHX-LAX tickets. No go. Most airlines make it like pulling the hen’s teeth = nearly impossible to use this “great benefit.”
Enter GREED again. Many airlines are now MAKING MONEY by SELLING the miles which they are making so difficult for a customer to use.
Isn’t it time we started calling this “marketing” tactics by its realy name – extortion.
Which is the ultimate audacity. Miles are supposed to be REWARDS to loyal customers for choosing that airline. Can you think of any other business SELLING their free rewards? Say, would you pay Safeway or Kruger for their coupons? Or for any other vendor’s promotional offers?
Well, the airlines have figured out a way of making millions of travel addicts do just that – pay for their “freebies.”
As for on board service, like the discount European airlines, in most cases you don’t even get peanuts anymore on domestic flights. But at least in America water is still free. For now.
Given the track record of airlines’ greedy practices spreading like cancer throughout the country in the last 13 years, it’s just a matter of time before water also goes the way of sodas and other drinks. Up, up and away, as the airlines race against each other to charge more and do less.
And then, what will be next? A special oxygen surcharge?
Not for this traveler. Nor for Elizabeth. We are not going to sit and wait for that to happen. We will not feed the greedy sharks anymore. We are checking out of the frequent flyer rat race. Not next month. Not tomorrow. Right now.
From now on, we will only travel between our two homes of necessity and by the most economical means.
No mas. No more. Basta. Enough is enough. Consumer boycott seems to be the simplest and the cheapest long-term remedy to gouging. Will you join us?
COMING HOME – BEST PART OF TRIP
And what was the best part about our long trip, you might be wondering? Coming home. As always. And here’s just one reason.
Take a look at this photo. What do you suppose the picture depicts?
A city park with birds chirping and people lounging on lawns and benches? A private green oasis at an office building?
No. This is the scene we encountered upon arrival at the inter-island terminal at Honolulu airport.
Now, contrast that to the concrete, steel and glass structures of the vast majority of airports across the US and around the world. And then you will understand the added stress man-made technologies devoid of natural habitats put on travelers.
Would you rather be a part of the above airport scene, or this one?
Now, which one is more typical in your experience? Which is what happens in a world in which sharks treat customers as meal tickets.
So back to nature again, in travel, as well as in other walks of life… far, far away from the airline and government sharks.
* * *
UPDATE JULY 29, 2015
TSA: 96% FAILURE RATE IN DETECTING WEAPONS
Remember all those annoying TSA body pats, long security lines, power trips by people who use their uniforms for a “blue collar” revenge? They were enough to make this global traveler with several million miles under his belt hang up his flying cleats, except when absolutely necessary.
(See GREED AND GOVERNMENTS HAVE TAKEN FUN OUT OF TRAVEL – http://wp.me/p3R16m-HA, May 2014).
“Now service is but a nostalgic memory,” I wrote upon returning from an overseas trip to Chicago’s O’Hare in March 2012. “Passengers are herded like cattle both by the TSA staff and the airlines. And the airline crews nowadays treat the passengers by and large not as valuable customers (except in their PA announcements), but more like school children who need to be disciplined condescendingly.” (http://www.yinyangbob.com/Europe2012/Epilogue.html)
And now here’s the icing on the cake. All this abuse of air travelers is for naught. TSA has failed to detect 96% of the weapons that passed its security checkpoints.
That fact alone proves that concerns about PUBLIC SAFETY had nothing to do with Homeland Security and TSA. It was all about PUBLIC CONTROL. And subjugation to governmental powers.
Edward Snowden’s disclosures also proved that.
Check out this news story (which has been curiously largely ignored by major “lamestream” media) which shows just how lame and ineffective TSA is.
“These findings shatter public confidence,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, during the hearing. “A reported 96 percent failure rate to detect explosives is completely unacceptable.”
Here’s also another report about the same congressional hearing by the WASHINGTON TIMES, the only major domestic newspaper to have carried this story. So much for public safety concerns of the major media, the government and co-conspirators in this shady operation called “Homeland Security.”
* * *
UPDATE OCT 1, 2015
After our return from Europe in May 2014, I published “AN ESSAY ON TRAVEL – GLOBAL TRAVEL ADVISORY: STAY HOME; KEEP AWAY FROM AIRLINE SHARKS!“ [editorial comment] – http://wp.me/p3R16m-HA
Now I can sound a similar warning about the vagaries of domestic air travel, too. This is a story about a horrific experience Elizabeth had today returning home to Maui from Phoenix, Arizona.
HAWAIIAN AIR FLIGHT FROM HELL: ELIZABETH DELAYED 5 HOURS (!) FROM PHOENIX TO HONOLULU
The main reason Elizabeth and I have flown on Hawaiian Air in the past was the airline’s on-time departure record. After what Elizabeth went through today in Phoenix, we will only use up the miles we accumulated and never again use Hawaiian Air for overseas flights.
(Locally, we don’t have much of a choice. HA is the only major inter-island airline in Hawaii).
So what happened?
Three separate mechanical failures on the same aircraft. Just as the crew would fix one, something else would break.
At one point, the airline has kept the passengers on board at the Phoenix Sky Harbor taxiway for 1.5 hours (!) – before bringing the aircraft back to the gate and having everyone disembark.
As a result, the food they had on board was not being properly refrigerated. So after the aircraft finally took off, 4.5 hours later than scheduled, the passengers had to endure the entire 6-hour flight to Honolulu without a meal. Instead, they were given some snack packs.
The airline also ran out of water on boards. And three hours into the flight, the toilets also ran out of water. So the passengers had to use drinking water to flush the toilets.
In short, it was a flight from hell.
By the way, Elizabeth is still not home in Maui. As I write this, she is waiting to board a local Hawaiian Air flight from Honolulu to Kahului. As of 15 mins ago, she said the aircraft as still not showed up at the gate.
So let’s see… assuming she got to the Phoenix airport around 6:30 local time (3:30 in Hawaii), this means that she has been traveling already for nearly 15 hours from Phoenix – and is STILL NOT HOME.
A flight from hell, as I said. And our farewell to Hawaiian Air.
PS: ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, RUDE AND ABUSIVE CREW
Elizabeth arrived in Maui eventually just before 7PM. Which means she had been traveling from Phoenix for over 15 hours. One could have flown from LA to Sydney, Australia in less time! And that’s the longest flight in the world.
But all’s well that ends well, I told Elizabeth when we met. The main thing is she got home safe and sound despite the abuses by the Hawaiian Air.
RUDE AND ABUSIVE CREW
Sure. You would think that after putting these poor passengers through such an ordeal in Phoenix that the crew would be extra nice to them on the flight. Instead, with more than half an hour to go before landing in Honolulu, they started to collect the movie watching players. One lady asked if they would let her finish the film.
“I only have 5 more minutes to go,” she pleaded.
“No,” the stewardess replied rudely. “I’ve got to collect the set now.”
Yet the PA announcement to surrender the movie sets was only made some 15 mins or so later.
“I could have easily finished the movie,” that lady was fuming angrily.
And with good reason.
So once again – NEVER AGAIN on Hawaiian Air for overseas flights. At least not for Elizabeth and me.