My Year-End Travel Review
O'Hare International Airport at Christmas.
"Airline travel is hours of boredom interrupted by moments of stark terror."
Having just wrapped up another travel year, I can't help but reflect on the trends I noted this year. It's a natural time for that, being the New Year (have a happy one, all) just arrived. So amidst the football (go Tigers!) and resolutions, I jotted down just a few thoughts on my travel observations.
1. Leggings are not pants. I am not sure why, in 2015, we still have to explain this, but ladies, leggings are not pants. They are meant to be worn under a dress or long shirt/sweater covering your bum. I cannot tell you how many people in how many airports wore unflattering ‘fits with all of their bums exposed because they believed leggings to afford them the same protections as pants. And size does not matter in this instance. They. Are. Not. Pants.
2. While on the subject of attire, I have a couple of more observations. When did onesie pajamas and UGGs become widely acceptable travel attire for anyone over 3 years of age to wear on a flight? Seriously, you can’t muster up at least a sweatsuit if your jeans are just too uncomfortable for your 3-hour flight? I understand airlines are valiantly attempting to cut the comfort (see below point), but let’s try to do a little better.
3. Last fashion observation: New York travelers dress approximately 170x better than LA-based travelers. Chicago travelers fall somewhere in the middle. I flew into and out of LaGuardia in NYC (which really is like a third-world country as VP Joe Biden stated), but I was astounded to see the vast majority of people flying in stylish suits. Like full-fledged skirt and pant suits worn by far more people that could be accommodated in just the first class cabin. It was such a stark difference from the laissez faire and borderline inappropriate travel attire I regularly see flying out of LAX, that I just sat and observed the passersby for a while in amazement.
4. Generally, airlines do not care about our comfort. In a year when high prices and huge profits from fees marked the airline industry, they decided to take it a step further, cutting legroom and cramming more seats onto already jam-packed planes. Most recently, JetBlue, a relatively fee-free airline budget carrier, has instituted bag fees for the lowest price fairs and is adding more seats, but they are just the latest airline in a trend of perceived irrelevance towards passenger discomfort. And although they stated that the idea was just conceptual in nature, Airbus filed a patent for saddle seats on planes. Yep, saddle seats.
5. …And fliers are starting to get fed up. And mostly take it out on each other. This summer at least three serious incidents occurred surrounding legroom and the infamous knee defender. Fights ensued. Flights were diverted and forced to make emergency landings. And just two weeks ago, a flight almost had to be diverted during a domestic Chinese flight when three women had a mid-air brawl over a crying baby. Perhaps we need to turn our collective frustrations towards the real culprits: the airlines.
6. Hotels could do better, too. The nickel-and-dime mentally is still prominent in the hotel industry. There is not much I hate more than paying fees for WiFi in a hotel. Seriously, not much. Especially in a higher-end hotel, because shouldn’t that be included in the higher, non-budget rate? And please, don’t charge me a resort fee that includes “free” WiFi and for the use of things that should be automatic/complimentary, like the gym (which let’s be honest unless it is business travel I am probably not going to use on my vacay, anyway). Not to mention the typically traveler-friendly Marriott, got fined $600,000 by the FCC for blocking travelers’ individual WiFi hotspots during a convention in Nashville. Not cool.
7. That being said, airlines seem to be trying to up the culinary offerings. While I can only speak to American Airlines on this one, they seem to be trying to improve the quality of the in-flight food with unique culinary creations that are not terrible and in some instances, pretty tasty. Shocking. Keep it up, and expand that practice to legroom and pricing.
8. I flew Virgin America for the first time this year. And it was pretty awesome. I enjoyed the seatback ordering system. And seriously, who doesn’t love the in-flight safety video. It was fantastic! I watch it on YouTube occasionally it is so good, and so do over 10 million other people, apparently. Bravo, Virgin.
9. And lastly, “service” animals are starting to become a joke. Really, an emotional support pig that poops in the plane aisle before flight? A (almost) flying pig. Just going to let that one sit there.
It wasn’t all bad in air travel in 2014. I had a great time and plan to hit many more destinations in 2015. But I do hope that especially airlines will start thinking more about their fliers’ comfort, whether fares are high or not. I have a lot of plans in 2015, and I think we can all agree that maybe one resolution for this upcoming year should be to make the skies a little bit friendlier.
Happy New Year and here’s to your next adventure. Wheels up!
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