SWEET SOJOURNER

And I think to myself.....what a wonderful world!

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I love travel! Whether visiting places via foot, car, bike, plane, ship, or train, I enjoy it all. It's a big country, and an even bigger world. Come learn about the best and worst of travel here with the Sweet Sojourner. :)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What an economy class air ticket today will buy you....

It's obvious that today's experience in economy class on a major airline is vastly different than the experiences of the past. When I was working as a flight attendant back in 2000, and we were handing out snack boxes to the customers, I remember a senior flight attendant remarking even then about the changing face of airline service. "When I used to fly from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia on the morning flight," she told me, "we would serve a full hot breakfast. All in less than an hour flight time."

That same flight today would probably offer a standard beverage service.

It seems that in this day and age, many of the airlines are suffering, particularly due to the devastating reverberations caused by 9/11, soaring fuel prices, and the decrease in business class travelers. Business travelers have always been the tickets that the lines have depended on heavily for their profits, but more companies are insisting that their employees travel in coach class to curb their own company's spending. Consequently, the airlines feel that in order to keep prices manageable, they must trim costs where they can.

So what does an economy class airline ticket buy you these days?

Well, for starters, you will be sitting in a seat with an average 32"-33" pitch. You may or may not have seatmates to the left and right of you, depending on if you are seated on a MD-80 model or an F-100 (which has one side of the cabin with two seats instead of three). Most likely you will be in a three-seater row on a Boeing 737 model or an Airbus 319/320. Airlines tend to favor these midsize aircraft as opposed to flying the larger planes (even more prevalent still is the utilization of regional jets, or RJs, on certain routes, but that is another post). If you are flying one of the older carriers, such as American, United, or Delta, expect to have beverages served, but don't count on a meal. Snacks may be offered, according to the time of day and length of your flight, and may consist of anything from small packets of peanuts or party mix to bigger fare such as granola bars or bags of chips.

If you are on a flight that is longer than 3 hours, it is possible that meals might be present on your flight, but they will probably be for sale. Airlines have been partnering with some bigger names to add flair to their menu choices, but in the end, it is still an additional cost to you and not part of your ticket. Pillows and blankets are still currently free on many flights, but not for long.

I think about the first time I ever went on a plane. It was a flight from New York City to Fort Lauderdale on an L-10-11. As I stepped aboard, I looked at the flight crew in awe, and being even more excited upon finding my seat with my Grandma in the large cabin. Once up in the air, I remember being served, in coach, an elaborate meal, topped off with cheesecake, in a wooden tray. The staff were friendly and extremely interesting to me. It was an amazing experience as a child. It's a little disheartening to think that some of that magic has gone by the wayside, in the name of maximum profit. However, I still hold great admiration for those who work in aviation, and sympathize with the changing conditions they continue to endure from many sides. If there is going to be a second golden age of aviation, however, I believe it will have to come from travelers like us making our wishes known. We need to praise loudly when we observe excellence, and object strongly when there are policies that would make our flying experience less desirable. After all, is it not the consumers who determine whether an airline continues to fly? :)

Sweet sojourns, my friends. :)

1 Comments:

Blogger iffatali said...

So I've seen life as one long learning process. And if I see - you know, if I fly on somebody else's airline and find the experience is not a pleasant one, which it wasn't in - 21 years ago, then I'd think, well, you know, maybe I can create the kind of airline that I'd like to fly on.Flights to Addis Ababa

6:34 AM  

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