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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Airport woes 

James Kunstler describes the journey of the damned when he recently flew from Colorado to New York. He makes this astute observation:
...a lot of this trouble was weather-related. But it was greatly aggravated by the extreme shortage of United Airlines ground employees. There are just no gate agents around. So, when delays occur, there is nobody around to re-book passengers. The majority of Customer Service desks are shuttered, and the few open ones have lines a quarter-mile long, so that even if you got on line, you'd miss the next available flight before anybody re-booked you.
The result of all this is a climate of anxiety, helplessness, and despair that makes air travel a miserable experience. You never know whether your flight will take off. The few ground employees actually on duty lie incessantly about the reasons for delays and cancellations (or say they have no information). If you get on a flight, you never know whether you will make your connection, or whether your connection will be there (if an actual plane will get there from someplace else).
The overall effect of US aviation these days is of life during wartime.
I'm quite sure it's not going to get better.
And that's what happens when airlines lay off staff incessantly.
In my own flight experience, I have learned that it is simply not at all worthwhile to expect the gate staff or the stewards on a flight will be able to give you any information about your connection -- they usually don't know, and if they do tell you anything, it turns out to be wrong anyway.
Or it got changed while you were on the way down.
The only thing you can do is reduce your carry-ons to the absolute minimum, wear running shoes, and sit on an aisle seat as far forward as you can. Then you barge out of the plane as soon it lands, knocking children and little old ladies aside as you go, and rudely interrupt the gate staff at your arrival gate in the hope that they MIGHT be able to give you the gate number for your connection.
But don't get your hopes up...

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