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I'm in LA today for meetings with clients -- from a logistical standpoint flying down to LA from Portland and back in one day isn't really much worse than driving up to Seattle and back. It's exhausting, and time consuming but doable. The main difference is the damn airline system.
I wouldn't want the financial nightmare it must be to keep planes in the air and make money -- I can only assume how much it costs to fuel, load, staff, and maintain all the planes in the air. Just getting everyone on a plane, in a seat is tough enough, the logic involved in routing people through multiple flights must be mind-boggling.
But I still hate the system.
For example, I generally use the machines at the airport to get my ticket -- they're a miracle of convenience if you're not checking any luggage. But, if you are checking luggage they're a useless step as you still have to have a person at the ticket counter tag your bag, only they don't actually TAKE your bag, you still have to roll it over to the TSA to X-ray it.
There had to be fewer queues in London during the Blitz. Stand in line to get your ticket, stand in line to get your bags tagged, stand in line to get through security, stand in line for coffee (not optional for me), stand in line to get on the plane, stand in line to get off the plane, mass around the baggage area (sort of a line without borders), and then one last line for a taxi or shuttle.
I usually add a line at the counter by the gate to get a better seat; to the credit of people trying to automate customer service they let you pick your seat on the check-in computer, but today I discovered that system doesn't work.
The thing is kind of a "you want fries with that?" program. As you check in it keeps offering you options like "more legroom" (up to FIVE inches more!), prohibitively expensive upgrades to First Class, and, a new one today, for 50 bucks, go through the first class security line and board early. 50 bucks to save 10 minutes, so if you make $300 an hour, you break even, and still fly out at the same time, sit in your coach seat and get off the plane at the same time.
But, today I took the "more legroom" offer for 20 bucks -- I got up at 4:30 this morning so I figured a little legroom might give me a chance to rest up before a crazy day. The computer showed me a seat map (the flight was half full) and I picked an aisle with noone next to me.
I figured 17B should be about halfway up the plane, but this is a CRJ which only seats about 65 people. My "upgraded" seat was in the VERY back of the plane, with a seat that didn't recline, next to the bathroom (where people and smells crowd your seat) AND there was someone sitting next to me. Not only that, but there was no one in the exit rows where there is substantially more legroom.
The flight attendant was nice enough to let me move, but had the flight been any fuller I would have paid 20 bucks to "upgrade" to the worst seat on the plane.
We'll see what I get on my flight back tonight, but I can assure you I won't be buying anything from the kiosk again.
Marissa Beatty: Re: "Upgrading" my flight
That is exactly why I always talk to an actual live person about things and not a kiosk or an automated phone system or whatever else.
Josh Norman: Re: "Upgrading" my flight
Interesting story. Although I live abroad, I'm glad I don't have to fly that often (for work or whatever).