Friday, July 14, 2017

Can you put a price on comfort and dignity?

The answer turns out to be YES actually.  I experienced it last week.

Most of us have noticed that in an ever increasing quest for more profitability, airlines have made many changes which leave most travelers longing for the good ol' days of air travel that was more comfortable, more dignified.  For those who are flying while fat... airline travel these days is a whole new level of uncomfortable and undignified.

I love to travel and have had many trips to far off places.  I used to be filled with a sense of excitement and adventure.  These days, when I'm planning air travel, I'm filled instead with a sense of dread about the on board experience.  With each trip, more and more is out of the passengers control.  Recently, airlines have begun to move to a 'basic economy' fare.  Many in the traveling public probably have not even noticed this shift yet because of that sneaky name.  What it means in general is that you don't get a seat assignment until you get to the boarding gate, and once assigned, you have no right/chance to change it or upgrade whatsoever.  Also, you are only allowed 1 carry on item (as opposed to a purse + carry on).  Hello middle seat.

Last week I flew to a speaking engagement out of state.  The company hosting me paid for my flight (in coach).  When I was booking, I realized that for just $300 more, I could fly in both directions in first class.  I did a little math and quickly jumped at the opportunity.  Delta was offering $100 off if I applied for a credit card- which I did... so now my cost was down to $200 extra.  With the first class ticket, I got 2 free checked bags, which was a $75 value in each direction- so $150 total making the actual cost of my upgrade just $50 for this round trip.

Here's the other goodies that I got for that money:

  • 2 carry ons- personal plus 1 extra
  • priority boarding
  • actual courtesy from flight crew
  • checked bags first off plane and into baggage claim
  • a beverage of my choice (including adult beverages) during boarding
  • unlimited beverages of my choice during flight (in a real glass)
  • snack basket passed several times (cookies, granola bars, fresh fruit, nuts)
  • blanket and pillow
  • leg room
  • elbow room
  • longer seat belt
  • no dirty looks from my seatmates because they feel crowded
  • armrest space for both my seatmate AND I
  • entire flight time with my arms at my sides and not crossed over my chest the whole way

So, what do you think?  Well worth the $50 extra?  My answer is a wholehearted YES.  

We shouldn't have to pay extra for comfort and dignity, but the airlines are not going to move backward in time to bigger seats, genuine care and courtesy for all.  And given that... I will work to be a more strategic traveler and look for these deals in the future because I have glimpsed that luxury and don't really want to go back.

Travel smart my friends.