WHILE FLYING MAY HAVE LOST ITS SWANKY APPEAL LONG BEFORE MOST OF US WERE OLD ENOUGH TO EXPERIENCE OUR FIRST IN-FLIGHT MOVIE, there was a decent period of time when it was little more than a tolerable inconvenience. Today, the experience is a one-upmanship of ludicrous and far-fetched scenarios. What used to be fodder for hack comedians has turned into a legitimate nightmare for all parties involved. From urinating celebrities to seat turf wars, all signs point to a system spiraling towards a complete meltdown.
Enhanced Security Measures
Mandatory screening of passengers have been in effect for nearly 40 years, but pre-9/11 the process was a bit less intrusive. Back in the day, budget carriers like People Express not only let passengers pay for their tickets in cash, in the freewheeling spirit of the times, fees were collected aboard the aircraft after takeoff.
Today’s more intrusive policies including hair pat downs and child gropings, have led to a more adversarial atmosphere. But it’s not just passengers and agents mixing it up. TSA agents have been known to go mano y mano after being subjected to their privacy being violated. A TSA worker in Miami was arrested when he “lost his mind” and attacked a colleague who repeatedly made fun of his micro-phallus viewed through a high-tech scanner that showed his genitalia.
Protest Fashion Products
Enraged travelers can do more than verbally bitch about enhanced security measures. Thanks to a cottage industry built around airline dissatisfaction, flyers can wear their discontent as fashionable protest. The choices run in two camps. You can play it for the yuks, with some variation of being manhandled by Transportation Security Authority Agents as the punch line. The more political minded can opt for a subliminal approach.
Escalating Personal Space Wars
Even after they finally removed the spiral staircases, cocktail lounges and piano bars, there’s very little seat room in today’s airline cabins. Humans are getting larger, seats are getting smaller. One company is offering the The Knee Defender to protect yourself against reclining seats and ensure you keep your slice of personal space. While most airlines have banned The Knee Defender, maybe it could have prevented F-16 Fighter Jets being scrambled as a result of a recent inflight leg room squabble.
Looking for in-flight amenities? It’s going to cost you. Flying today means being dinged for almost everything imaginable—baggage, boarding, meals, miles, Wi-Fi. Depending on the airline, you can expect to shell out for everything from your carry-on bag, to $8 for a blanket. But when it comes to putting the squeeze on its passengers, there’s no doubt which airline comes out on top. Ryanair continues to find the most creative ways to put the screws to its passengers. The budget airline has said not only is it looking into removing toilets from aircraft to make room for more seats, but also charging passengers to use the loo in-flight.
Diana Cook is a professional aesthete with a sense of humor and an optimist. If you want to be deluged by her cheery thoughts and pithy observations, you can find her on Twitter or circle her on Google+.