Fish: A butt slap doesn't make up for flight delays

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If anything ever needed a government intervention, it's air travel. If the function of government is to keep people from getting knocked around like a ping pong ball in a hurricane — if that is truly the government's function — I would say that the airlines are about to get a storm named after them. It's really getting to be very ridiculous and I really think, even though there are bigger and better issues to tackle, I really think that someone needs to shake the FAA and shake it really hard!

One story after another of travel mishap, that's pretty much what I've heard. The airlines have rooms filled with people who push dots around on a screen that represent planes (and hundreds of lives). They know where everything is at all times. If someone is flying too low, they know. If someone strays of course, they know. If they are moving too fast, they know. So can someone explain to me exactly how you're connecting flight isn't going to be there when you are? Please explain to me why they can't figure out your northbound flight will stop 300 miles short of its destination due to weather? I'm not sure how this happens, but it does and it's happening a lot.

Nightmare travel story after nightmare story I've watched unfold on social media of jubilant vacationers and travelers looking forward to their week away only to have their dreams shrouded in the darkness that is air travel. Stories of people returning from a wonderful vacation only to be dumped 1,000 miles from home and given a pat on the butt while being smiled at and told good luck! Then charge you a $25 pat-on-the-butt fee with a smile thrown in for free. Now, I understand that there is a safety-first concern and I respect that. The part I have a problem with is the shoulder shrug and the "What?" look on the face as you de-board.

Typically, when I/we travel, my wife will insist on wheels up and wheels down, meaning no layovers, no stopping, simply get on the plane where you start, get off the plane where you're staying. Now, sometimes that will cost extra, but I have to say from the stories I've been hearing the few extra bucks will save you a ton of aggravation that is akin to shaving time off your life. But it shouldn't have to be that way and the airlines know it! They continually treat their customers likes McDonald's treats farm animals. All they see is an opportunity to reign over you and you have little or no recourse. Sure they'll offer you up a free ticket voucher. But isn't that like going to a shooting range, getting shot and then they offer you a free opportunity for it to happen again? I don't get it. That makes some people happy, but not me — nope.

My daughter recently had what you could classify as a trip from hell. Boarded in Boston on her way to Chicago and instead landed in Baltimore. She was supposed to be going to the Netherlands; instead a smile and a butt slap. So to the counter she went. They said we have a flight leaving Toronto for Holland at 11 p.m., we'll put you on that flight and you're all set. Board the flight to Canada, step off in the land of the Maple Leafs and Blue Jays to a canceled flight to Europe with absolutely nobody around! Not even a shrug, slap on the butt or dumbfounded look — nobody. Keep in mind, this is 13 to 14 hours of bouncing around airports with the prospect of another 20 to 24 hours to go. She ended up in Europe some 36 hours later, which was a miracle. And yes, there are worse stories, and, yes, there may very will be more important matters at hand. But trust me when I tell you that the American traveler is being fleeced of basic human rights when they fly and for my money, a little government saber rattling couldn't hurt.

Oh, as for her luggage ... well, it made it! What the hell is up with that?

Fish is the opinionated morning jock on Classic Hits 92.7. He offers up his opinion at 7:50 a.m. every morning (Monday through Friday). Let's start the revolution. E-mail him at fish@wkvt.com. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.


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