No more free peanuts or pillows: High cost and low quality of airline travel

Airline travel has come a long way from the days we could smuggle a pet rat to Detroit on a carry-on hat.

Cramped and cranky is the name of the airplane game/Ryn Gargulinski

We have come to expect lengthy security lines, dumping out our coffee and water in the trash and bringing passports and blood samples just to get through the pre-boarding gate.

We are even used to the incessant holdups from folks who insist on wearing lace-up knee high boots when they know full well they are going to have to take off their shoes.

But we have not yet gotten used to how chintzy airlines have become. The first inkling of the high cost of airline travel came while booking the tickets in the first place. Cheaptickets.com can no longer live up to its name.

Flying the unfriendly skies/Ryn Gargulinski

At least $400 was the going rate for roundtrip from Arizona to Michigan. Unless, of course, we were willing to make two or more lengthy stopovers in places like Duluth, Minn., or Mouse Island, Maine, neither of which are really on the way to the Great Lakes State.

One flight option may have even included a quick jaunt to Alaska first.

Chintzy red flag number two came when we had to pay for any checked-in luggage, even if it were standard size and fewer than 40 pounds. We’d hate to know the cost of the guitar case one dude tried to carry on the plane or the child-size wooden skeleton I once brought back from Mexico.

But the real clincher came when we got no free peanuts. Who cares if the little packets often contained about five nuts and 7,000 milligrams of sodium. At least they were free.

Clouds look like marshmallows when you're starving on your flight/Ryn Gargulinski

Some airlines now require us to pay for any little scrap of food.

About $3 gets us that formerly free pack of five peanuts. Up the ante to $4 and get a pack of nine mixed nuts. Go all out with a $7 charge for a single slice of meat hidden deep between two slabs of bread and creatively called a sandwich.

Credit cards only, please.

After a hefty snack of $33 worth of peanut packs, even the nap will cost us.

A complimentary pillow or blanket has become a thing of the past. We are instead forced to pay another $7 for an airline “sleep kit” which includes a blanket as thin as the sandwich’s piece of meat, an airline sleep mask and a blow-up pillow that makes us dizzy in the airplane’s thin atmosphere.

The sleep kit also includes a pair of disposable ear plugs too chintzy to block out the man on the next aisle who goes on and on about his travels from New York and experience in nuclear physics to a total stranger.

Chintzy airline practices have also seemed to make fellow passengers more annoying.

The best part of the flight is landing/Ryn Gargulinski

Perhaps they are light-headed or woozy from lack of food, or cranky from not having the $7 to plop down for a nap.

Or maybe they’re just missing their dear pet rat, which they could no longer smuggle on board to Michigan.

[tnipoll]

__

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who never had a flag outfit but does dig red shoes. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com and Rynski.Etsy.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

What do you think?

Are you fed up with airline’s cheap-o practices? What are some other examples?

Do you enjoy flying?

How much would you be willing to pay for a bag of free peanuts?

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About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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22 Responses to No more free peanuts or pillows: High cost and low quality of airline travel

  1. john kennedy says:

    I don’t know, I mean it IS a business, right? Bring your own snacks and stuff, like I do. Yes, flying used to be fun, even as kids running wild in airports, etc…
    Now it’s just transportation. If I go anywhere further than, say, St.Louis, I’ll drive. I have nice cars, XM radio, and a beautiful country to drive in. What else do you need?
    Flying? Someone else can do that.

    • Rynski says:

      hey john kennedy,
      i agree — roadtrips RULE over airline travel. alas, the trek from az to mich would have taken at least three days…but, like you mentioned, it comes with countryside, music – and my faves: CHINTZY roadside stops and attractions, not to mention the dogs.
      i do bring snacks on plane – but they are usually gone before we even leave the runway – hahaha
      thanks for comment.

  2. medicareblogger says:

    Fly Southwest!  Bags fly free (2 bags up to 50 pounds). Peanuts are free too (unless a passenger has informed the airline that they are allergic to peanuts, in which case you get cookies and/or pretzels.  And just imagine what germs were on that blanket you used to get on the plane….yuck!

    • Rynski says:

      thanks for tip, medicareblogger – others, too, have told me southwest rocks.
      the free bags and peanuts! no swest flights to the neast, sadly, at least not when i checked mich schedule.
      you are absolutely right! about the community blanket and pillow – YUCK – so glad i invested my $7 to get one that was brand new (even though i nearly fainted blowing up that dang air pillow thing – hahahah).
      thanks!

  3. michael leckrone says:

    Dear ms. Ryn,
    Are you all thats left of the Tuc Citizen?

    • Rynski says:

      hi michael leckrone,
      well, i am one of two full-time gannett employees of tuc citizen that was retained after print edition went under. other employee is mark evans, who doubles as a walking thesaurus (hahaha).
      we have dozens of bloggers/writers on the new site, at least two of which were citizen employees.
      hope that helps answer your question?
       

  4. Mark B. Evans says:

    Chintzy means brightly colorful but gaudy and tasteless. I don’t think that describes airlines or is how you intended to describe them above. I know you like weird-sounding words. You could use parsimonious, perhaps. Or niggardly (don’t confuse it with a distasteful word that sounds similar), or perhaps, and I think this is your winner: cheeseparing!

    • koreyk says:

      As another connoisseur of weird words, I had never heard of cheeseparing before.  It will make a good addition to my arsenal.

    • Rynski says:

      dear mr. walking thesaurus evans, –
      i’ll have to agree with koreyk – cheeseparing is a dandily AWESOME word.
      i will have to disagree, however, that the meaning of chintzy is limited to “brightly colorful but gaudy and tasteless.”
      the definition is much broader and also includes:
      stingy, miserly, flimsy, and cheap-o rama. can also be used to describe a cheap shot (i.e. “chintzy goal” in soccer when the point was not deserved but rather ended up willy-nilly in the goal by some fluke.)
      parsimonious is much hoity-toity-ish to describe cheap-o airline practices and your second suggestion, you know, would get people calling me bias, etc.
      so, chintzy it is!!!
      hey, did not we once debate about the use of the words ‘kitsch’ and ‘kitschy’?
       

  5. Barker says:

    Being from Tucson, we tend to fly Southwest most of the time. As mentioned above, 2 checked bags are free, and light snacks are provided. Plus the attendants and even the passengers seem to be in better moods than on other flights.

    • Rynski says:

      thanks for another southwest vote, barker.
      sounds better every minute! funny you should mentioned the mood of the attendants – ours on both flights looked very tired and annoyed – not to mention i saw one pop a pill once she looked over and saw the long line of passengers boarding (hahaha).
      we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume it was an aspirin or painkiller of sorts…

  6. Alan in Kent WA says:

    The trick is to get loaded and eat before you fly, but time it in correlation of the distance you will sit from the head.  SFO has the best bars, as it seems every other place in the airport is somewhere you can get booze.  Minneapolis hasd the best food courts.  Portland OR is the best airport if “airport campouts” are required.   SEA, my home airport, is the worst for airport camping.

    • medicareblogger says:

      Don’t drink too much or you will not be allowed on the plane. Airlines are fined $10,000 if a drunk gets on the plane and causes trouble.  I have a family member who works for Southwest and she has had to tell a number of people they won’t be getting on the flight.  If the drunk makes a stink, the cops are called.

      • Rynski says:

        wow – $10,000 for a drunk passenger causing trouble?
        drunks on airplanes sounds like a good topic – would your family member be open for an interview???

    • Rynski says:

      thanks for tips, alan in kent WA, but i don’t drink – i do, however, bring my trance meditation tapes that are supposed to make me equally as oblivious (hahaha).
      i’ll keep food courts in mind next time i’m in minneapolis!

  7. koreyk says:

    Between 1990 and 1994, I logged well over 1.5 million frequent flyer miles.  Fortunately, I was able to use some of those miles to upgrade to first, or business class most of the time.  With all the security changes on top of the cost cutting, I am thankful I’m not required to fly any more.

    • Rynski says:

      wow-ee, koreyk,
      1.5 million miles in four years???
      hope you got some really cool trips out of the deal, like paris, rome, cairo and mouse island, maine.
      yes, the security and chintziness has made airline travel’s hassles far outweigh any joy.
      cool you got to upgrade – so YOU were one of those ‘elite’ folks sitting in front of the see-through privacy curtain? hahahhaha.
       

      • koreyk says:

        Yeah, over 1 million on Continental alone.  But, remember, frequent flyer miles aren’t real miles.  When I was flying, there was a minimum of 750 miles per segment, and they often had specials where you got double mileage.  My ‘real’ mileage was only about 600,000.

        Unfortunately, I never used my mileage to go anywhere exotic.  I gave a bunch away to relatives, and used the rest for me and my daughters to fly first class to various family reunions.  I still have enough miles left for about 3/4 of one ticket.

  8. Private Jet says:

    You can choose a private jet travel which will be little costlier than the commercial flight fares, but you can make a quick and secured travel with luxury.

  9. radmax says:

    “How much would you be willing to pay for a bag of free peanuts?” ? Is this a trick question? 😉
    Hi Rynski! I would have to agree with you on the horrors of  air travel these days.
    In my case I was cramulated between my sleepy fiance and a gas bag, snoring, carrion-breathed implement of biological warfare. No, even the three little air jets would not slake the horror of this stench bomb. It was like having an angel on one shoulder, and a minion from the bowels of Hell on the other…for four hours non-stop. UGH!
    Oh, the zombie flight attendants…one looked like she was on a doomed flight-the other had the personality of a bowl of jello…for four hours!
    Needless to say, I shall weigh my travel options carefully in the future…a road trip looks very attractive at this point.
    PS- Oh yeah, there’s more. After being asked what type of meal we would prefer online when booking, zombie lady informed us there is no meal. ? We ended up paying about 100 dollars for a couple of rubber sandwiches.

    Southwest rocks! Only good airline left it would appear.

  10. Lance Boil says:

    Hiya Ryn!
    Rubber biscuit Radmax?!? Bow bow bow . . .

  11. Max Load says:

    Here’s another take on flying you might enjoy: http://imalloverthemap.com/2010/06/the-hidden-cos…e-modern-times/

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