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Tonight on GeekNights, we talk about air travel and flying. In the news, we're going to be at Anime Boston live! Also, there are people trying to create hell for prisoners a la Surface Detail, and the GH4 4k camera cometh!Download MP3
(Holy crap, just found out JetBlue operates BOS to PHL as of May 2013. Goodbye forever, US Airways.)
Sorry for all the quotation marks. I haven't posted in a while.
There was an Outer Limits episode about a mind jail. It was actually pretty good: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sentence_(The_Outer_Limits)
The only difference for me is that I don't have to suffer flying American airlines
Who is everybody's worst flight attendants?
My vote for worst flight attendant crew goes to Qantas Airlines.
In the 80s it was so exciting to fly. Granted, I was much younger. But boy, has our local (BDL) airport rotted as the money has dried up. Then add the shit-flavored-frosting of the TSA, smaller seating, reduced amenities... I wish there was a way (beyond just abolishing the TSA) of revitalizing the industry again. Alternative fuels? Even larger planes? I dunno.
I second the idea of using smaller, alternative airports instead of the big ones like JFK, Logan, etc., if you don't live within a short distance of the big ones. Around here, generally those who live north of Boston fly out of Manchester, NH and those who live south of Boston, like me, fly out of Providence, RI. I can't vouch for Manchester, but Providence overall is a much nicer experience than Logan -- especially if you have to drive to the airport. It's just much more laid back and less crowded.
As far as Muppet and BDL (I assume that's Bradley Airport) rotting, maybe that's just a thing with that particular airport. Providence has improved significantly in the past 20 years or so, although the presence of Southwest Airlines (and, more recently, JetBlue, though only for limited flights right now) probably had much to do with fueling that (FWIW, Southwest also flies out of Manchester -- another reason why people often flock to that airport).
One thing to keep in mind about the airline industry is, yes, there is smaller seating and reduced amenities, but the average cost of airfare has also gone way down too, believe it or not. The airline industry in the US has had a total race to the bottom because people kept demanding cheaper and cheaper airfares. Combine that with the increased cost of fuels and airlines are nickel and diming everyone left and right.
Muppet, you talked about how exciting air travel was in the 80s. Well, let's look at the cost of a ticket back then vs. now. A quick Google search led me to determine that, adjusted for inflation, airfare now is 23% cheaper than it was even in the 90s, let alone in the 80s. If you're going to be selling the same product for 23% cheaper and you haven't had any major technological breakthroughs in efficiency to lower costs (which, there really hasn't been when it comes to airliners except for maybe the 787 Dreamliner), you're going to have to make up the difference somewhere: smaller seats (so you can cram more people on one flight to spread out the fixed costs of fuel, maintenance, aircraft depreciation, and flight crew pay) and reduced amenities.
Finally, just a note on pilot pay. Rym and Scott are both right and wrong. Scott is right in that some pilots can make six figure salaries. However, these tend to be the most senior pilots at a particular airline, flying prime routes, in the highest-end aircraft like 747s and such. You only get these plum assignments after working for an individual airline for a decade or two, at least (and forget about changing airlines -- often if you change airlines your seniority drops back down to that of a rookie, complete with rookie pay, thanks to arcane airline union rules). Rym is right in that a significant number of pilots, especially new ones right out of airline pilot training, basically make close to minimum wage. What's worse is that unless you got your flight training in the military, the cost of getting enough training and experience to get an airline pilot's license can easily meet or exceed the cost of a 4 year college degree. The only glimmer of hope is that many foreign airlines often try to recruit American/American-trained pilots since our pilot training is so good in this country and they'll often pay fresh pilots more than American airlines would -- but you'd have to move out of the country to do that.
I agree that not all airports have turned to shit like Bradley, but I don't agree at all that the flying experience hasn't significantly deteriorated, partly due to the amenities/planes and largely due to the TSA nonsense. The cost of getting on a plane is to be humiliated. That's not benign. I understand that frequent travelers are habituated to it, and that's even worse.
That said, of course, there's a pretty good chance that the aircraft you're flying on with any particular journey is a design that's very similar to the design from the 1980s with minor updates, because the entire plane is from the 1980s, with minor updates.
The TSA is a separate issue as well from the issues of amenities/planes not being quite as nice as they used to be. I do agree that dealing with the TSA sucks and is absolutely worthless security theater. The amenities/planes thing all has to do with the airfare race to the bottom in the industry. Face it -- if you want nicer planes/amenities, you're going to have to pay more, and apparently most people aren't willing to pay more to get those.
"There were 123 aircraft in service with 10 operators as of 31 January 2014; these are Emirates (44), Singapore Airlines (19), Qantas (12), Lufthansa (10), Air France (9), Korean Air (8), Malaysia Airlines (6), Thai Airways International (6), China Southern Airlines (5), and British Airways (4)."
787's in service: 122 in total, with just 8 for any USA airline.
Keep it up, America!
If it was JUST the budget experience without the TSA, I wouldn't mind so much. I'm sure I'd complain about how much nicer the experience used to be, but I wouldn't get physically ill at the idea of flying for vacation.
About the only possible relation is that airlines oversubscribed by buying too many aircraft and hiring too many crews at a time when the disposable income/airfare curve was high enough where they could have good quality service at prices that a large percentage of the population could afford to pay. However, as income dropped, the airlines had to lower their airfares and therefore cut costs in other areas in order to maintain their fleets at current sizes while still maintaining profitability. However, the airlines could at some point simply right-sized their fleets (depending on various accounting/fiscal rules) to better handle present economic conditions. The fact that they took the "cut prices to the bone" option instead of the "let's only serve those who can afford us" option is purely a business decision on their part, and arguably not a very intelligent one given how much they're struggling compared to present day luxury airlines, like Emirates, or even the airline heydays of the 50's-80's when only the rich and famous could afford to fly.