Flying lows

My new job requires me to travel. Once I get settled in, the travel will be occasional, but right now it’s frequent. (And my week off from business travel will still involve me flying to get to Mom’s house for Thanksgiving.) I am now reminded of how much I hate flying. It’s such an incredible hassle! Let’s take the flight I’m on right now for an example, which is not at all atypical (this will be posted later, once I’m on the ground).

This United flight from Newark (EWR) to Montreal (YUL) was scheduled to depart at 10:28am. It boarded and left the gate more or less on time. But that means nothing. We proceeded to sit on the tarmac for the next 45 minutes. That is the most frustrating delay you can have. You’re stuck in a cramped seat, with no electronics or Internet access, nothing to drink, no bathroom access and often (as was the case today) no idea when you will actually be leaving. Even when we were finally told we were second in line for departure it was nearly another 10 minutes before we took off!

Newark seems to be one of the worst for this type of delay, both in and out. My flights to Newark are usually late. For my trip home last Friday afternoon, the plane was late coming from Newark and then we were again delayed on the tarmac due to congestion at EWR. At least that time they gave us an estimate of when we would leave and allowed us to use electronics while we were parked and waiting.

Why are the airlines allowed to get away with this? They know full well their schedules aren’t realistic. That’s why the scheduled time for this short 57 minute flight is an hour and 27 minutes. They build these cushions in because they expect to be late. Of course, they are supposed to cover delays at both ends, but in this case we exceeded the half hour cushion by 50% just on the departure side! Again, not atypical. Why does this happen? Even in generally good weather the airports can’t seem to churn planes in and out as fast as they are–according to the time tables–supposed to be able to.

And I haven’t even started on checked bag fees, TSA’s enhanced security screenings and liquid carry-on restrictions, high fares, and many airlines eliminating free snacks and limiting seat availability (unless you pay even more money). It all adds up to one major pain in the ass.

But what can we do? Drive? Take a train? Ha! For the most part, it’s put up with all this crap or stay home.

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