We love to hate flying. Airlines have kept many a stand-up comic employed lo these past six decades, rude flight attendants and their pre-flight instructions last updated by the Wright Brothers easy fodder for a fast laugh. And don’t even get me started on the food!
Do they still serve food? Airlines are desperate for business, suffering greater losses during the Covid 19 crisis than at any time since the Wright Brothers invented human flight. They are having to accommodate the most sensitive germaphobes and the most ardent critics of safety restrictions, whom fate may have assigned in seats next to each other. Yeah, it’s going to be a long flight.
Yet for all our griping, we have grown accustomed to flying wherever we want when we want how we want in ever-increasing and constantly record-breaking numbers, complaining every step of the way. Every day there had been 44,000 flights and 2.7 million airline passengers, according to the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization. We were griping before the TSA came into existence following 9-11 but now we like to gripe about the long lines and added time they’ve added to the travel experience. And don’t even get me started on the food.
And now Covid. Food service is slowly returning on airlines, individually wrapped and served with minimum contact. The entire process of check-in and security processing has become touchless and electronic, a smart phone a must to fly now. There have been social media posts of packed out planes, and there have been some, for which airlines are very grateful, but reality is, according to iHeartRadio aviation expert Jay Ratliff, airlines are averaging 39 passengers per flight. Social distancing remains a challenge, but short of redesigning the plane there’s only so much they can do, Ratliff says.“If you and I seated at an aisle and window seat, are we six feet apart?” he asks rhetorically.“We’d love to think that middle seat was six feet across. It’s not. And if we were in opposing aisle seats, there isn’t six feet across.” Policies on masks vary, some airlines requiring them, some strongly suggesting, and some a little lax.“We have flight attendant unions and pilot unions that are pushing the Federal Aviation Administration, and they have since April, to make those masks mandatory across the board, but just as they did with the emotional support animal situation, the FAA is doing nothing,” adds Ratliff.
Yes, he’s complaining, because that has become a part of our flying experience. We’ve missed it, and we’re so glad it’s all coming back again so we have something to complain about. As if a pandemic shutdown collapse wasn’t enough. And don’t even get me started on the food.
photo courtesy of Getty images