Some of the Gen-Xers might remember this song, but probably none of the millennial generation will know what it refers to. No matter, it’s a good title for the subject of this blog, i.e. traveling by airplane.
For those that don’t remember the song, they probably don’t even remotely remember when flying by are used to be enjoyable. You had a nice comfy seat, plenty of leg room and even a meal. Meals that were the butt of many jokes about airplane food, but it was a meal. Nowadays you stand in line for an hour or more to get to your gate, a gate your family could wait their with you giving you comfort and support and one last kiss goodbye. No longer. The need for security, which I totally understand, has also made last goodbyes short and brief with hand-holding and no last minute hugs. It is what it is.
But what really concerns me is the way the airlines are treating the majority of their passengers. If you are not wealthy enough to buy a first class ticket then you are herded to a seat that is squished up against the next seat and into the seat in front of you. There is no meal, not even the pretzels or peanuts you used to be offered. There are no free cocktails anymore, except for first class and there is no room to get comfortable either. In the name, of profit passengers became cattle and are treated as such.
Nose to tail passengers are shoved into seats that barely keep them off their seatmate’s laps or, if the worse occurs and your seat mate falls asleep, off your shoulder.
Now, here is the real point of this blog. I recently had the wonderful experience of flying first class. It was on my bucket list, and given my age, decided it was time to experience this luxury. I was treated to butternut squash ravioli in an Alfredo sauce, sparkling wine, warned cashews, almonds and pecans, fresh rolls, a seat that even I could fall asleep in (I’ve suffered from insomnia for many years), warm hand towels to wash my hands, and the list went on.
But even as I was enjoying all this luxury, I couldn’t meet the eyes of my fellow passengers. If I did they seemed to be glaring at me or embarrassed. And I found myself wondering about a system that allows for such disparity in treatment. I was and am no different from my fellow passengers. I just happened by happy chance to be able to afford a first class ticket. It probably won’t happen again, even though I would love it to, and I will become nothing but cattle to be prodded into the tiny seats and endure a 12 hour flight without food.
Is it right to treat people differently, i.e. like a herd of cattle because they don’t have the money for a first class ticket? Did 9/11 change not only the security in our airports, but the way we are treated in flight as well?
This world is literally falling apart and I think the corporate greed as displayed by the large corporations in America is one of the larger problems. There seems to be no limit to the lengths they will go to earn a few more pennies on each dollar spent. Just take a look at the pharmaceutical companies whose charges are as reprehensible as the airline industry’s. One recent example, is the pharmaceutical executive who bought out another company and raised the price of a critical drug by 600%. That is neither ethical nor necessary.
I realize we are a capitalistic country and that is the grounds we were found on. The right to pursue happiness. But since when did happiness come with a price tag? When did it come with outrageous profits at the cost of the poor who need the medical care or the pharmaceuticals just to live. I don’t have any answers, but I do think a change is necessary because if there is not change the American dream will become a reality only for the top 5% of Americans, i.e. the rich who can afford it. And, this is not what our forefathers fought for.
(pictures courtesy of Pixabay)