Flying is getting more surreal each time I do it. You make your own reservations and check yourself in. If you want to eat on a plane, you bring your food with you. A checked bag is twenty-five dollars – each way! On our recent trip to Wyoming, that added $150 to the total cost. Or it would have if my husband hadn’t figured out a way to beat the system.
While waiting for our flight out, after we’d already checked our bags, the gate attendants repeatedly requested that passengers check their bags because the flight was running out of storage space in the overhead bins. Before they called our group to board (which they organize by some algorithm that I’m clearly not smart enough to understand) they announced, “If you have carry-on luggage, you must surrender it now so we can check it; the plane is full.” There was much grumbling about the inconvenience amongst those still waiting to board, but no one complained about the cost, because now it was free.
On the way home, Hannah and I checked our bags, which were too big to carry on anyway, but Andrew held onto his. Once again, when it was time to board, the announcements started. “This is a full flight and there is not enough room in the overhead bins. Please let us check your bags for you.” Andrew marched right up and handed his over. His bag was sent to join ours and we saved $25. Ha, take that United!
But bags aren’t the only thing you pay for. You want a window or an aisle seat? That’ll cost extra. Traveling with a child? Didn’t spring for the cost of an aisle seat? Well then, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to sit with your child. That’s insane! Believe me, there isn’t an airplane passenger in the world who wants to sit next to someone else’s abandoned kid. Come to think of it, some of us might even pay extra to ensure that that doesn’t happen…
I don’t know how we managed since we didn’t pay for the privilege, but the three of us were seated together on all four legs of our vacation flights. On the second leg of our trip home, the plane wasn’t terribly full. I was in the middle seat. As soon as I sat down I started scoping out a replacement seat. There were a few empty rows, and a few that just had one person in the aisle or the window. Things were looking promising. They shut the door; no one else would be getting on. I began checking out the competition. I knew that everyone else in a middle seat was thinking the same thing I was. The flight attendant picked up the intercom.
“Hello everyone. Looks like we have some room on the flight this afternoon so as soon as we’re in the air, you’re free to move. However, those of you in the back of the plane, please do not come any further forward than row x.” Apparently, those people paid more for their seats. In the good old days, there would have been a curtain to provide a visual clue, but no more. Then, to add yet one final insult, the flight attendant came over the intercom and said, “And if you have to use the restroom, please use the one at the back of the plane. The ones forward of row x are not for you. Enjoy your flight.”