Letters – June, 30 2006

Letters – June, 30 2006

Hackles Up Over Seatbacks
I just read an article regarding in-flight amenities, and Randy Peterson offers some “tips” at the end for trying to make the best of a bad situation with the airlines. He first suggests to simply skip the meal in flight, rather than pay $7 for a terrible sandwich or salad. While this suggestion may work for shorter flights, just not eating really isn’t an option when you are traveling over 5 hours, and even that’s a stretch. And packing food can be tricky too, because you don’t want to bring things that are going to stink up the entire plane, or make a mess, considering the space limits. (Another variable for those people traveling to and from Hawaii: There are many fruits and veggies, which make great travel snacks, that you cannot fly with because of the agricultural restrictions.)

The airlines have you as a captive audience, the very least they can do is offer something, whether you are paying or not, for you to eat. Delta has a great program, or at least they did when I flew them last, through Atlanta Bread Company. They had an actual menu of things to eat, and while it was pricey, the salad that I had was absolutely fantastic! Perhaps if all the airlines sought out a good vendor to bring onboard, like Delta, people wouldn’t balk as much.

Mr. Peterson goes on to discuss bringing blankets and pillows for in-flight naps, and seat etiquette in general. Again, I realize not everyone flies at least 5 hours on every trip (I live in Hawaii, and just getting to California is a significant haul), but if I have to sit for that long in one place, with no food, and no entertainment, unless I pay for it, reading is only going to cut it for so long, especially on red-eye flights. I bring a travel-size pillow and travel blanket that take up less space than most women’s purses. I’ve paid for my seat, like everyone else, and I am entitled to travel comfortably. If I choose to put my seat back, deal with it. I think it’s obnoxious to suggest to people that they need to sit straight up and down in coach for 4 hours, and not sleep.

Mr. Peterson, while I realize your comments were meant to be very broad, and all-encompassing, I still think it’s unfair to make consumers feel that the burden is on them to “make it work” and “get along.” While there are definitely areas of the public’s flying behaviors that are sorely in need of correcting, I don’t think in-flight food and seat position are even remotely close to the top of the list. And the airlines are offering a service, that’s the bottom line. I think that there are other solutions to their problems than to simply eliminate comfort for their guests.
Noreen Baldwin

I just read Leslie Hunt’s article about airlines cutting back, or charging for, amenities that were once free. The article quotes Randy Peterson’s expertise on airline travel.

Having flown Jet Airways in India, I am amazed that a company in a developing country can provide service far beyond our wildest dreams here. The staff on that airline are courteous, the service is impeccable, the carriers are clean, and they serve a meal or snack (which in itself is a meal) on every flight.

Why is it that we are regressing in service and customer care, while other countries are becoming more “American” than we are? It’s almost like “we must decrease so that they can increase” … we’re not reversing a Biblical text, are we? I know we’re becoming more Christian aware … but this is ridiculous!
Falvo Fowler

In the following article on Yahoo, Randy Peterson was quoted as saying, “Forget leaning back for a snooze — it’s become a no-no these days to recline your seat.” Why would he make such a comment? Reclining your seat is perfectly acceptable and 85 percent of travelers do it. The only time it may not be acceptable or you may be asked to put your seat up is when everyone is eating, but this has always been the standard practice and is common courtesy. Next time try not to make up myths about flying to make yourself look like an expert.
Chris Canterino

In a Yahoo News article I read this morning about charging for amenities and the continued denigration of pleasure in flight travel, your Randy Peterson is quoted as saying that “…it’s become a no-no these days to recline your seat.” Who died and made him King of Airplane Etiquette? I have never seen anywhere in print or heard it announced or discussed that this is so. If he has a bias against someone in front of him reclining in their seat then he ought to keep his opinions and perhaps bad experiences to himself instead of trying to change the way America and the rest of the world fly. Until the airlines lock the seats to keep them from reclining or mandate that it is against some FAA regulation to do so, I will continue to recline my seat, as it is the only way I can find any comfort in the sardine-can-sized space the airlines generally provide. And if Mr. Peterson happens to be the idiot who was such a literal pain in the neck on a recent trip from Phoenix to Kansas City because me reclining my seat disallowed him to read his book as he claimed, and he reacted childlike and violently pushed my seat forward, waking me from a deeply sound sleep and literally almost giving me whiplash, then he can still do as I told him and the flight attendants who witnessed his boorish behavior confirmed … move to another seat if one is available or keep his hands off the seat in front of him if one is not. After all, it is only a means of transportation and not the local reading room, right Randy? I would appreciate a reply and a retraction of his opinionated and unsubstantiated comments in a future issue of your publication.
Bill Sherriff

After reading your Web article on no-more-frills airlines, I feel compelled to let you in on a few unknowns in the airlines.

I worked for a major carrier, though I am now laid off due to high CEO salaries and bankruptcies. Anyway, on a carrier known as Northwest Airlines they do charge for exit row seats; however, the FAA mandates that the person in that emergency row be able to lift 42-60 lbs and be over 15 years old. But, if the passenger waits 29 minutes before boarding you can get it cheaper or possibly free. The real problem here is when you have a 300-pound, 6’1″ tall person, they can not fit through the emergency window, and if on the row seat, they block the others from even coming out. But, hey … they paid their money. Once again free enterprise takes over. This has to be the dumbest idea ever! Let’s pay for comfort and forfeit safety!
Mark C.

Editor’s Note: Actually, much was taken out of context with my remarks. I was simply pointing out that it would be nice if passengers would alert those sitting behind them before “slamming” back their seat. Nothing more.

Reward the Winners
Your Freddies issue was terrific. There was so much good info there, and I hope your readers will decide to try out some airlines new to them based on the high ratings of those airlines. An airline starts with its people, and the people at those airlines — who work so hard to please us — should know that we appreciate them. And, moreover, flying an airline because we have heard about their good service or good frequent flyer plan can only help to encourage that airline, and perhaps enable them to expand. If good airlines are expanding, we — the flying public — win.
Mark Terry

Bad Show, Budget
I have been a Budget customer for many years, but their recent policy concerning a $9.50 gas pre-pay fee has put them on the bottom of my preferred list. True, if you show proof that you did purchase gas, they will remove the fee, but not all locations can do this at the curb, and you have to go in the office to have the fee removed. To make matters worse, not all locations have the “pay $9.50 for 75 miles or less” option, and it is not publicized when you pick up the car. So an unsuspecting traveler that assumes he can bring the car back with less than 75 miles and pay the $9.50 may be surprised to get a bill for $28, like I did. Budget is also not very good at honoring their promotions. I qualified for the free Dunkin Donuts coffee promotion 6 months ago — I’m still waiting for my cup-o-joe! Thumbs down to Budget — they lost a loyal customer!
David DiPietro

Hold the Handouts
Why does our Government give airlines money?

Why not just let them charge what they need to charge, and if you can not afford to fly, then drive or take a train. Let the airlines start having to work for your business. I am so sick of it being like an Alabama bus ride on the flight.

Offer all the goodies, and if you can’t afford it, find another way to get there. Why are my tax dollars going to these businesses?
Joe Williams

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