Squeezing the Air Out

Looks like air travel is coming full circle from the 1930's.

Looks like air travel is coming full circle from the 1930’s.

by Mike McHugh
Over the years, a lot of things have gone by the wayside that I was happy to say “good riddance” to. Eight-track tapes, late video return fees, and the Macarena are just a few examples. Then recently, I was distressed to read a story on Marketwatch.com about how one such item, the pay toilet, may be staged to make a comeback. It should come as no surprise that its return, like a bad dime, is courtesy of (you guessed it) the airline industry.

It’s just the continuation of a trend that’s been going on for years now with air travel, starting with the fees for checked baggage. Now some airlines have begun charging for carry-ons as well, making it so that the only way you’d escape extra charges would be if you were traveling to a nudist camp.

Available to help ease you into your seat for an additional fee.

Available to help ease you into your seat for an additional fee.

It’s apparent that they’re not stopping at baggage. The pay toilet idea, which reportedly was floated by discounter Ryanair, is just one of many things that the airlines are thinking about charging extra for. The outright leader in this a la carte air travel model has got to be Spirit Airlines. Spirit hooks travelers with ticket prices comparable to those for a carnival ride, but once you check in for you flight, you quickly discover that it’ll cost you dearly if you desire any amenities at all, such as breathing air, while on the plane.

This is starting to become an attractive alternative to air travel.

This is starting to become an attractive alternative to air travel.

Extra charges are just one thing that the airlines are doing to make travelers seriously consider an oxcart as an alternative for their next cross-country venture. They’ve also made the seats narrower and cut legroom, to where passengers have to smear their bodies with petroleum jelly (available from the airline at extra charge) in order to squirm into them. What’s more, some seats now don’t even recline. That may be out of necessity, however, as the seats now are so crammed together that if you could recline one, you’d likely give the passenger behind you a concussion.

And they’re not stopping there. According to the aforementioned story, one aircraft maker actually submitted a patent for putting bicycle seats on a plane. I wouldn’t be surprised if this move is just a precursor to making passengers pedal unless they pay an extra fee for jet fuel.

What's more comfortable than a seat on an airplane?

What’s more comfortable than a seat on an airplane?

It turns out, however, that the seat situation may not be of any consequence, because you’re not likely to be sitting in yours much during the flight. Rather, unless you have a bladder the size of a hot air balloon, you’ll be spending most of your flight waiting in line waiting to use the bathroom. Although they’ve yet to install coin slots on the doors, the airlines are reducing the number of facilities and shrinking them down to less than their old school locker size.

Before you know it, riding in an airplane will be about as comfortable as sleeping on a bed of nails. That may be okay if you’re one of the Addams Family, but for those of us who relate more to the “Modern Family” clan, we could be in for some rough sailing.

All we can hope is that maybe Uber will step in and start hiring eagles to carry us where we want to go.

© 2015 by Mike McHugh

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