Ever wonder what happened to the niceties that used to come with air travel?I recently flew from Jacksonville, Florida, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on America Airlines’ subsidiary American Eagle. It’s not the first time I noticed the added seats, turning a two-seated aisle into a three.
I’m not a large person so the seat size doesn’t bother me, though the legroom is tight and when I rest my arm on the seat divider it sometimes seems as though it’s in my neighbor’s lap. What does bother me, is the airline’s lack of storage space to accommodate carry-ons for the extra passengers – a trend all too common these days.
This all started in 2008, a year before I invented the Tube travel pillow you stuff with clothes. I didn’t invent it in answer to this issue, I invented it because my husband was a road warrior with only two hands when he needed five.
In 2008, airlines also began charging for checked baggage. Then, in 2011 they added carry-ons to their al-a-carte fight menus. For years people tolerated the fees and overcrowded conditions without too much fuss. In fact, travelers repeatedly tell me they deliberately bring oversized carry-ons to every flight because the airlines check them at the gate for free. They’re right. The airlines do check them for free at the gate. Something flyers take into consideration when purchasing their tickets.
In the old days, flying was a luxury and it felt like one. There was plenty of room and stewardesses handed out blankets, pillows, and meals. These days you’re lucky if you get a tiny bag of pretzels. It appears airlines and their terminals have traded in their “middle-class-experience” in favor of becoming the Greyhound in the sky. In 2018, FlyersRights.org, a nonprofit advocacy group, filed suit asking the FAA to establish guidelines for seat dimensions. The FAA refused, saying the smaller seat size poses no safety threats should evacuation become necessary.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we remain seated with our seatbelts securely fastened and our knees up to our noses.