Air travel

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  #1  
Old 04-24-16, 01:35 PM
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Air travel

Could it suck any more?

I used to fly 3-4 times a month for work. I often looked forward to flying as a relaxing way to go. After I retired we still traveled 3 or 4 times a year on vacations. It seems as if every year it just keeps getting worse. Gone are the days of roomy seats, in flight entertainment, hot meals and attractive flight attendants.

We flew to Orlando last week. As expected it was crowded, cramped, expensive and annoying. Loooong TSA lines, late boardings and departures and absolutely no frills , cattle car transport (they did hand out juice and a mini bag of pretzels) despite the ticket costs.

Add to that we arrived one bag short. Fortunately the airline located it quickly. They couldn't deliver it to our hotel though. It seems the bag fell off a luggage cart and got run over. The were nice enough to put the pieces in a stuff bag though and deliver it the next day. Unfortunately. it was my wife's "wife things" travel bag full of all those wife essentials that she can't live without. Day one of the trip was cranky wife day.

On the way down I caught a case of airplane crud and spent most of the trip sneezing and hacking. I probably infected most of the passengers on the return trip. A trip that featured loooong TSA lines, late boardings and departures and absolutely no frills, cattle car transport despite the ticket costs.

We are visiting friends in Colorado this summer. We had originally intended to fly down but I told my wife, we're driving.
 
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  #2  
Old 04-24-16, 01:39 PM
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I don't do much airline flying but my sister does. She has very similar complaints. Mooooooo.

With the low gas prices.... now would be a good time for a road trip.
 
  #3  
Old 04-24-16, 01:41 PM
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We haven't flown in a few years. I hate the cramped space. I don't mind driving and go to Orlando a couple of times a year. 10 hours in my car still beats 6 hours fighting airports. I also drive to LA every couple of years.
 
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Old 04-24-16, 02:25 PM
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I don't have an airport nearby so I have to drive 125 miles just to get there, then find a place to leave the car (at upwards of $15 a day), and normally rent a room since I prefer early flights (cheaper).

Last time I flew it was about 2 yrs ago. The first leg (LV to Miami) was horrendous, though for some reason (maybe my military service or the fact I hadn't flown in years, I dunno) I was a trusted traveler and bypassed most of the TSA. It was like a regular check-in in the good old days. It was the plane...OMG. The seats were worn, old and cramped. They still had the CRT screens in the middle of the aisle even. And it was jammed with people. I think they did show a movie and gave out snacks and free N/A beverages.

Then a 4 hr wait in Miami to go to St Croix. Much newer plane, more comfortable seats, fold down overhead LCD panels every 2 rows, not crowded. I was able to find an empty row and actually nap. No meal in coach, but small sandwiches, drinks, and a snack.

Same thing on the way back...nice new plane mostly empty, then probably the same clunker I flew before. Same trusted traveler for me, while wife had to wait in the regular lines.

My rule now is less than 1000 miles, I'll drive. Not that I'll ever travel that far away again, unless it's in an urn.
 
  #5  
Old 04-24-16, 02:39 PM
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About the only place we fly is to Denver to visit grandkids and their makers. We have done several airlines but have settled on one...the one that doesn't charge you for carry on and luggage. So nice to book without the never ending accessory charges. No reserved seats, but we get priority boarding so it is a wash.

I worked for a large airline back in the 80's and 90's, and travel has certainly changed. TSA lines, there are no sane words to describe it.
 
  #6  
Old 04-24-16, 05:03 PM
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I too used to fly a lot for work and grew to dread it. LOML and I still fly quite a bit for vacations and I still dread it. One thing that has helped it getting TSA precheck. It costs $85 per person for 3 or 5 years (I forget) but (assuming you are approved) guarantees you can use the pre-check lanes. Lines are way shorter, you don't have to remove shoes or light jackets, and don't have to take laptops, etc, out of your carry-ons. Bonus: one of our credit cards reimbursed us for the cost of the fees.

I simply refuse to fly on the airlines that charge for every little thing. Some of them even charge more if you wait until the airport to print your boarding pass! If I can't afford to take Southwest or another airline that includes checked bags and doesn't charge for carry on bags, I don't go.

Cleveland used to be a Continental Hub and I loved to fly them. Since United bought them service is horrible and I avoid flying them if I can.
 
  #7  
Old 04-24-16, 05:03 PM
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Unfortunately there is nothing glamorous about being a commercial airline passenger especially if you are in coach. Often it's the cheapest way to travel long distance so it's been reduced to the level of a bus in the sky. Many of the new planes like the 737-900 feature reduced seat pitch and less recline while implying that the LED lighting in the lavatory makes everything better.

Riding in the front seats is somewhat better domestically and much better internationally. You're further away from everyone else so you're not immediately breathing in your neighbor's cough. You get food which is usually quite good and is a source of entertainment and helps break up the monotony of sitting in a chair for much of the day. Then there is the PDB (pre departure beverage). That wonderful adult concoction that helps you forget the crowds of gate lice that know they are boarding last but still feel like crowding the gate blocking everyone else from getting by.

TSA PreCheck helps a lot with the security line hassle but surprisingly some popular airports like Laguardia don't have it. Please don't get me started on Homeland's infinite wisdom to randomly take people who have not been pre-screened and put them into the line with reduced inspection.

----
For those cursing a two hour airplane ride this fall I will board my first flight at 5:30 am on Wednesday and don't arrive at my destination until... Friday morning. There is a 4 hour layover in JFK and a 50 minute layover in Japan but other than that it's all butt in the seat time riding as cargo.
 
  #8  
Old 04-24-16, 05:21 PM
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Wow, those long flights are murder. Only bright spot is they are usually big planes so there is room to get up and walk around a bit. Safe travels!
 
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Old 04-24-16, 05:33 PM
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I find the 737-800 pretty comfortable with southwest. I'm 6'-3" and wasn't crying the whole trip.
I always hope and look for upgrades to first class, at the departure gate, for about $60.00. Well worth it.

I flew to Diego Garcia (middle of Indian Ocean) many times via USAF C-141, 2 days if you were lucky. That was in the 80's though. The boxed lunches made the trip worth it...
 
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Old 04-24-16, 05:37 PM
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On an unrelated note.....Kids. I think the airports and airlines do a superb job in safeguarding kids who fly alone. My grandkids (11 & 8) often fly to Atlanta. We have to bring every form of identification known to man in order to retrieve them. We do get concourse passes so we meet them at the gate, which is nice. When I worked for the airline, all "alone" kids wore widget badges, and if an employee spotted a kid without supervision, we were to immediately go to their side and "protect" them and find out what was going on.

So kudos to the ones responsible for this. TSA still inhales rapidly.
 
  #11  
Old 04-24-16, 07:25 PM
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We used to alternate vacations between Europe and Hawaii. We quit several years ago because of the travel time.

I looked up fares from JFK to Rome. Surprisingly they are not much more than the last time we went (2008) about $1000. Up front seats were in the $6k - $7K range. It would take a lot of PDBs to make up for that.
 
  #12  
Old 04-24-16, 07:36 PM
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TSA still inhales rapidly.
I think you mean exhales rapidly through pursed lips?

My longest trip was a chartered MAC flight from Baltimore to Bahrain. Probably wouldn't have been that bad except we stopped in the Azores, Rota, Sigonella, and finally Bahrain. Each of the first 3 stops we had to deplane to a waiting area, while those getting off got their luggage and the plane was refueled. Of course there was nothing but a few vending machines and you couldn't even go outside to smoke. It wasn't til Italy that there was finally enough room to not have a seatmate. I think I left around 7AM and got off finally around 4AM the next day...no clue how long it really was with time zone changes.

Best long flight was a C-141 out of Travis AFB back to Scott AFB. Yeah, jump seats suck but being right beside the crewman as he refueled a flight of F-4's out of Las Vegas ANG was priceless. Now, getting from Scott down to somewhere close to Norfolk was a nightmare. But hey, when yer young and broke...who cares.
 
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Old 04-25-16, 02:38 AM
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exhales
Nope, inhales, as through a straw. I have had the occasion to be chosen for TSA bypass, and it is very nice. I would definitely spend the money for it, but you have to go to Atlanta via an appointment and interview in order to get it, and heaven forbid your paperwork is not correct. It's a wasted 5 hours to me if it happens.
 
  #14  
Old 04-25-16, 04:37 AM
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C-141 = luxury class.

My longest flight was 11 hours as "cargo" in a Marine C-130 (RAAFB Darwin to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan)! Lots of other C-130 rides in the 6-8 hour range going to/from Westpac. Flying now? NOT!
 
  #15  
Old 04-25-16, 09:32 AM
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I agree about the C-130 vs C-141, although I've never flown in a C-141. It has to be more luxurious than my last C-130 flight, 14 hours on a John Wayne seat made from cargo net and pipes. Noisy (ear plugs the whole way), bumpy with a white knuckle landing. We had a perfectly good landing strip but the pilot decided it was a good time to practice a short filed landing.

Southwest randomly assigns TSA Pre check status to some passengers when issuing boarding passes. I don't know if any other airlines do that.
 
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Old 04-25-16, 10:16 AM
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John Wayne seat made from cargo net and pipes. Noisy (ear plugs the whole way)
Well, thats the way the 141 was as well. I guess it was a B model since it had the boom, but nothing but fold down seats along the fuselage, and trust me it was plenty noisy. They passed out ear plugs as you went aboard and had mickey mouse ears for those who wanted them.
 
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Old 04-25-16, 01:42 PM
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Southwest randomly assigns TSA Pre check status to some passengers when issuing boarding passes. I don't know if any other airlines do that.
That prompted me to check into TSA Precheck last night. I find that I can go about 70 miles away (not toward Atlanta) to interview for it. Did it all online and all I have to take is my birth certificate and driver's license.
 
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Old 04-25-16, 05:03 PM
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TSA Precheck was pretty easy and painless except for scheduling the interview. When we were trying no location within 500 miles had appointment openings so we did it in Milwaukee while on a trip. The interview process was very different for my wife and I. My interview was just some seemingly innocent small talk and was quite pleasant. My wife by comparison was questioned much longer and asked specific questions about some of her travel to Africa and Asia. She works in international health and travels to some "interesting" places for work while I just travel internationally for fun.
 
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Old 04-26-16, 05:30 AM
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For those with C-130 experience, don't you just love seeing scenes in movies/TV that take place on a C-130 in flight and the characters are carrying on a conversation in normal living room voices? Yeah, right.

BTW, everyone see that viral video about the woman being held hostage at a checkpoint over the matter of her stored breast milk? I would have lost my mind and gone to jail for strangling one of the agents.
 
  #20  
Old 04-26-16, 06:21 AM
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Even better is when they show a C-130 and sometimes even jets and have the sound of a WW-II piston powered airplane. At least the movie "Airplane" did it as a joke.
 
  #21  
Old 04-26-16, 07:31 AM
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Getting off topic, but how about the cargo plane with the ejection seat in Die Hard 2? Just one of many far-fetched aviation-related items in that film.
 
  #22  
Old 04-26-16, 02:53 PM
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Again drifting off topic, but do you ever watch movies and TV shows wishing that they hired a "stupid checker"? I remember watching an episode of Scorpion where the good guys were in a convertible underneath a passenger jet that was maintaining a low altitude above a runway. Somebody in the plane lowered a cable so that the guys in the car could access the jet's computers. All this at 100 mph+ and the cable hung straight down no problem. Stooooopid. It was the only and last time I watched Scorpion.

I have no problem with fantasy shows stretching believability but the ones that are supposed to be semi real life could do a better job of getting it right.

We often assign "stooopid" ratings to shows. The number of "Os" in stooopid depends on how unbelievable it is.
 
  #23  
Old 04-27-16, 02:52 AM
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My wife will fuss at me when I fuss at the TV for showing things that just couldn't happen the way it is portrayed. Unless it's a fantasy type show I want it to be believable ...... but then I still like the old westerns even if they did have 6 guns that held 8 shots
 
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Old 04-27-16, 05:03 AM
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My wife loves Scorpion but I have a very hard time suspending my disbelief enough to get into it. And, I saw the jet episode... so, so many things wrong.
 
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