Air travel SUUUUCKS

Is it just me, or has air travel gotten unbearably bad lately. I'm stuck on LGA tarmack as I write this. Landed over two hours ago. Trip was from NYC to Boston and both outbound and return flights delayed over an hour. LGA isn't an airport. It's an expensive airplane parking lot.

Delta claims to be "the most on time airline" but in my experience, their batting average is horrible. So many delays on clear days you'd think their planes are allergic to sunlight.

Some colleagues have recommended the train for travel between Northeast cities.

Thoughts?

Comments (43)

Most Helpful
Aug 8, 2019

Man thats insane, just like so stupid.Living in Boston, I have had my fair share of bullshit at Logan too. I honestly hate air travel between cities in the Northeast. The people suggesting a train are right, in my opinion. It is only slightly longer than the plane but costs about the same all in and is more comfortable cus you have a good chance of having a whole row or at least an open seat next to you for the majority of the trip. I go visit friends working in NY quite a lot and having tried every means of transportation, I'd have to say the train is the move. I wouldn't bother driving between the two cities, since traffic is awful in both of them.

Also fuck the bus--I know that its the cheapest but I've been screwed over on it. I'm not kidding, one time the driver pulled over at a rest stop and left. Like got in a car that rolled by and bailed. I know they switch drivers mid trip sometimes but I seriously think this guy just quit because we sat there for like 4 hours. People were calling cabs and family members lol. Missed a networking thing because of this lol.

    • 4
Aug 9, 2019

Used to do the bus a ton back in my undergrad days and had my fair share of breakdowns and extended stops at the burger king where all the megabuses park

Aug 8, 2019

Laughs in LAX

    • 4
Aug 9, 2019

Of course the train is better. Not even close. What is there to think about?

    • 1
Aug 9, 2019

The things to think about are status and points. If you travel weekly those things matter.

Amtrak points are the nut low when it comes to travel perks. Not only is their dollar value nothing to write home about, the destinations you can use them on for vacation are extremely shit compared to airline points. And the status doesn't get you a whole lot.

Generally though, the day to day experience is better.

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Aug 9, 2019

What are 200 flight miles worth? 2 bucks? Yeah I know there's other considerations like hitting thresholds for EQMsand shit, but on a base level we're talking about 2 bucks worth of miles. The whole airline status game never seems to be worthwhile when you compare cost and benefit. Seems more designed to make unimportant people feel important.

Casinos do the same thing, giving you back a penny for every dollar you give to them. Of course, it doesn't look like a penny . . it's a nice free dinner or hotel room in exchange for losing thousands of dollars at the tables. Literally giving someone a penny for every dollar they lose wouldn't make them feel important, but a comped dinner at Palm makes someone think that they're special.

Aug 9, 2019
PteroGonzalez:

Of course the train is better. Not even close. What is there to think about?

Taking Amtrak in the fall from NYC to Boston, seeing the beautiful New England fall foliage and nature, drinking a cold beer and eating a burger while resting on a big comfortable seat. It is vastly superior to flying.

Funniest
Aug 9, 2019

I loathe air travel. Let me tell you about our 5-hour layover in Manila the other day. We're flying from Tokyo to Melbourne with a stop-over in Manila. My wife's mom, who's Filipino, warned us to watch everything they do because they'll drop a bullet in your luggage and ask for money not to arrest you. Shit like that. The plane that lands is like 80% Filipino and 20% white people. They herd us into the "customs room". Both bathrooms are out of order simultaneously. I try to find water because I'm dehydrated because these people confiscated all of my water bottles before the flight and then attempted to sell them back to me on the flight at exorbitant rates. I refused to be a part of this, so I'm parched.

So they herd us into what is essentially a gymnasium with no bathrooms and no access to water. There is a large hospital-style counter in the middle of the room with maybe a dozen Filipino women mostly chatting with one another back there and occasionally yelling at a passenger to "Please be calm, honey" or to "Calm down, darling". We have a 5-hour layover, but a lot of people are on connecting flights with 1-2 hour layovers. Scattered around the perimeter of the room are maybe 5 or 6 Filipino men (one can only assume as they look to be no older than 17) sitting in lawn chairs and playing on their phones. All of the wall outlets are occupied by airport staff.

All of the layover passengers' passports are gathered up by one woman (HeadPinoy) who dumps them into a used Subway bag and walks off. We are told she is going to get our customs stamps. Had they gathered up all of the man-boys around the perimeter and had them run shanty-customs booths, this could all have been avoided. But they had Angry Birds to attend to. We wait for about 4 hours on this gymnasium floor. There was one more tiny adjacent room with fold-up chairs they had herded all of the angry white people into to wait, but we chose to sit outside to observe the happenings. Every 10 minutes or so, an angry white person would work up some nerve, bust out of his holding cell, and attempt to plea with the Filipino women behind the counter. They would be promptly put in their place in a mildly-disparaging, mildly-sexual fashion. For the record, all Filipino women speak English like white American gay men.

Two Chinese teenagers who are very close to missing their flight take out prayer beads and begin praying at the counter. Of the angry white people busting out of their chamber, one stands out: He started off the night with his baseball cap turned forward, but it is now turned back. He has on a skin-tight black T-shirt, distressed and bedazzled jeans, and one of those gym shoes with the ridiculously-large white foam padded sole. He says "Innit" a lot, but with the upward inflection replaced with raw aggression. He is incredibly persistent. He is brushed off even more curtly than the other angry white people by the Filipino ladies. We never saw him exit that room.

About two hours into this, Nicki Minaj starts blaring from what sounds like shitty phone speakers from the general direction of the counter. I assume it's some white trash in their holding cell making a ruckus. Upon closer examination, it appears the music is coming from behind the counter. Several of the Filipino men around the perimeter perk up and sort of dance and head-bob their way out of their chairs, leaving their Angry Birds games un-paused with their phone on their lawn chairs. They slowly and melodically mosey on over - first to, and then behind - the counter and an impromptu dance, bump & grind party breaks out between the Filipino staff. The lady who carried out passports off in a used Subway bag several hours ago tries to get the angry English man in a backwards cap tilted vertically to join in. He mutters legal threats. This amuses her to no end.

The dancing turns into some light butt-slapping. Eventually, a disagreement emerges over music choice and soon two, and then three phones are playing different songs simultaneously. A tipping point is reached and the Filipino men gradually recede back to their Angry Birds lawn chair setups and the music stops.

By now, everybody who isn't flying to Melbourne has missed their flights and it's 4am. The head lady who walked off with our passports leaves again. Things have really calmed down. Everyone has accepted their fates. Most of the PerimiterPinoys are drifting in and out of sleep and the ladies behind the counter are huddled together whispering and giggling. The angry white man is sitting on the edge of his chair with his elbows on his knees, like a baseball coach watching a pivotal play, and has his face buried in his cap, like a baseball coach whose team just lost. Thirty minutes pass like this.

A melodic indigenous song begins to echo faintly through the halls. The HeadPinoy lady emerges. Her T-shirt is now partially rolled up to expose her naval, which is not how she left, and she is triumphantly clutching the used Subway bag of passports at shoulder-height. Huzzah! She is singing a song as she meanders toward the counter. She passed my wife, who is half Filipino, and I on her way and briefly stops and attempts to get my wife to join in on the song. She is disappointed when she does not know the words, but winks at her regardless. HeadPinoy dumps the passports out onto the counter and continues strolling around while singing and doing rhythmic-gymnastics-meets-burlesque-esque movements with the used Subway bag our passports came out of while an apparent subordinate calls out the passengers' names one-by-one. Our passports are returned to us with stamps in place. Everyone who isn't headed to Melbourne walks off with heads bowed. A long line forms at the only place in sight to purchase bottled water. A group of six Chinese teenagers with gold pinkie rings promptly cut it and have their credit card declined. Nobody on the Melbourne flight saw BaseballCapMan exit that room.

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

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    • 6
Aug 9, 2019

Yikes.

I've always prefered international carriers, especially in APAC (JAL, MAS, Cathay Pacific etc., even Air Asia). I feel like the airlines are great (usually new, comfortable planes with good CX) and the airports are terrible (over crowded, underinvested infra).

Aug 10, 2019

He started off the night with his baseball cap turned forward, but it is now turned back.

SB'd for this.

Aug 9, 2019

If you think Delta is bad, you should try other US airlines...

    • 1
Aug 9, 2019

Correct. Delta is wonderful compared to American or United. Alaskan is the only one on Delta's level IMO. Southwest is probably half a tier below.

    • 1
Aug 9, 2019

That's what Middle Seat says:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-best-and-worst-u-...
... Tallest midget.

Aug 9, 2019

I've had reasonably good experiences with SWA. And no change fees is super nice when flying personal (obviously matters way less for business)

Aug 9, 2019

I think this post should be called "US Air travel sucks". It's pretty good in Europe.

Aug 9, 2019

Does British Airways still qualify as Europe? Because I had a flight with them . . or should I say fight . . that I guarantee will be the worst customer service I've ever encountered even if I live to be 200 years old.

It was so bad it needs to be listed in steps:

  1. I book the flight (London to Chicago), and pay for "economy plus" or whatever they call the seats with extra legroom that are not first class.
  2. I show up to the airport and I'm not in economy plus. I ask some BA dude how I can buy it, and he said they'll take care of me at the gate.
  3. At the gate they tell me they can't sell me economy plus right now, but if I get on the plane and there's still seats, I can pay on the plane.
  4. I get to the plane and economy plus is almost 100% empty. But they tell me that I can't make the purchase on the plane and it's too late. This is already terrible fucking service, but we're just getting warmed up
  5. I take my seat in the first row of regular coach. For some idiotic reason, this seat directly faces a jumpseat so that I'm face to face with a flight attendant for the first and last hour of the flight.
  6. Shortly before takeoff, I ask the flight attendant (who is staring right at me from her jumpseat) if I can get up to grab my headphones. We weren't taking off yet and any answer from her other than "yes of course" would be insane, but I wanted to show respect and ask. The second best answer would be "no, sorry, regulations are tight and I can't let you get up" . . which would be a really shitty answer but still logical.
  7. Incredibly, this bitch couldn't give either of the two plausible answers. She said something like "if you really must have them, I suppose you get them." Again, wanting to be respectful, I said "I'd like to get them if you really don't mind." She repeats her vague answer more aggressively, basically implying I'm a huge pain in the ass for even asking, and still not giving me a clear yes. At this point I get up, grab the headphones, and say "I just needed a yes or no, I don't know why that was so hard."
  8. After take off, this bitch (who again is sitting facing me) tells me she didn't like what I said to her. I actually appreciated her saying this, figured it gave us a chance to make peace. I explained that I felt she was being difficult, and think my comment was't out of bounds in light of that. Long story short, we seemed to make peace.
  9. I have many normal interactions with her over the next several hours . . drinks, snacks etc . . all good between me and my new bitchy friend.
  10. Dude sitting next to me gets drunk and spills wine all over my seat (and a bit on me too, but the main thing is my seat is soaked). At this point, I should remind you that I tried really fucking hard to sit in economy plus which is currently empty.
  11. Furthermore, regular economy is 100% full except one seat all the way in the last row of the plane, so there's no other place I can fairly sit besides . . well, the economy plus seat I've been trying to buy all fucking day.
  12. There's only an hour left in the flight at this point. So I go into economy plus (just one row ahead of me) and fall asleep. I figure, if these guys wanna start shit with me, what can they really say when we're about to land anyways?
  13. My bitchy friend (at least I thought we were friends) wakes me up to tell me that I need to go back to my seat, and that it was "fraud" for me to "upgrade my seat without paying." I explain (1) I want to pay, how can I pay, please take my money, (2) dude spilled wine all over my seat, (3) we're close to landing anyway.
  14. She says I can speak to a manager if I'd like. I'm thinking "fuck yes, finally someone who will understand how absurd this all is." I tell her I'd love to speak to the manager.
  15. Manager comes up to me very angry, can't believe he's being taken away from his book or whatever the fuck he was doing before this. Tells me that I'm rude, that I've committed "fraud" (yes, fraud again . . these Brits/Euros really like their dramatic languag) and that he's considering reporting me to the authorities when we land. For some reason I am still appreciative that people take the time to listen to me even as they are being total assholes to me, so I try to explain to him the whole story and I didn't intend any harm and yadda yadda yadda. Figured he might at least calm down. Nope. He tells me that if I don't sit down in my wine-soaked seat, I'll be arrested when we land.
  16. After I get off the plane, there's two women from American Airlines (because that's their US partner) waiting outside the plane. This manager fuckface is holding an ipad and filling out a report about my fraud and malfeasance. Hands it over to them and giddily tells me "Mr. ____ enjoy the rest of your travels sir." I ask the AA agents (read: normal Chicago chicks) whats up, they said BA is really anal about shit like this, they fill out forms to cover against liability, don't worry about it.

Soooooooooo . . . to the extent British = European, yeah I think imma just go ahead and disagree with you about the good experience.

    • 2
Aug 9, 2019

Not trying to defend BA (I personally dislike the airline, especially after what Alex Cruz has done with it), and sorry to hear you had this bad experience, but BA doesn't offer a "Economy Plus" in the same way some US-carriers offer "Main Cabin Extra" or similar. They only offer a full "premium economy" product, similar to American's "Premium Economy".

"Economy Plus" on British Airways is the same as "Main cabin" on American Airlines, and their standard Economy ticket is the same as American's "Basic Economy" (which has no checked bag provision, forces you to board last etc).

I doubt BA would have downgraded you from Premium Economy to Economy if the cabin was empty. Although, if this was the case, then definitely complain, and under EU261 you're entitled to, I believe, a refund of 75% of the original ticket price.

In general, if something like a wine spillage occurs, BA tend to be accommodating in most circumstances - but not all. For instance, recently a Business Class passenger was forced to sit on a seat full of dried vomit on a 10-hour flight, and instead of allowing him to move seats, the CC accused him of making the mess! (see here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7109023/B...)
But, especially as there is not a culture of "free upgrades" in the same way there is on American carriers, BA does take a rather hardline stance against self-upgraders (see here for one example: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-ex...). And most BA frequent flyers seem to agree, and in fact think BA takes too lax an approach to this (for instance, read some of the comments in this thread: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-ex...).
In general, though, especially after Cruz's cost-cutting schemes, BA is not a great airline to fly with, and other European carriers such as Swiss offer a far superior product, in all cabins. American is better than BA for TATL flights too, IMO. The one exception may be if you fly on BA's new "Club Suite" Business product, which does look good.

Aug 10, 2019

I should have added this as a disclaimer - I also think that BA doesn't have great service. AF can suck at times too but I've found that Alitalia, Iberia, Lufthansa, Aer Lingus and KLM are consistently good (based on my experience with them). Haven't tried all European airlines, but many of them are good. From the US I heard that Alaskan and Hawaiian are good - any Americans can confirm?

Aug 9, 2019

You do realize there are substantial moving parts with ATC managing the air space? I'm not saying this is acceptable but there is a shit ton of chaos ongoing on the best of days.

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

Aug 9, 2019

I grew up riding coach in the cargo area of the station wagon going on Clark Girswoldesque trips from the Windy City to such places such as the Ozarks, Wisconsin Dells, Walley World, Panama City Beach, Nashville, etc. I'm predisposed to drive versus fly in as many cases as possible. The hassle of getting to an airport 2+ hours ahead of your flight, going through TSA, waiting to board, waiting on the tarmac, waiting to deplane, and finally exiting the airport adds more time than the flight saved on many occasions.

There is also something about the open road, good tunes, and stopping to see the crazy tourist traps. I'll never forget seeing one of the largest balls of twine in the whole world on the way to the Ozarks. I don't think it's there any longer, but it was a heck of a hokey stop that brought about years of laughs and inside jokes.

Aug 9, 2019

Despite technological advancements in computing, air travel remains archaic and continues to get worse. First, the speed of these planes has not increased. Being stuck on a plane for 12+ hours to get to Asia? Good lord. What a nightmare. Second, the entire experience has become dehumanizing, uncomfortable, and painful.

This is due to simple economics. Back when flying was a luxury, the airlines had huge seats, nice meals, and a pleasant experience. As more Americans flew, the airlines realized that customers only cared about price. Hence, the optimal strategy was to reduce costs and maximize margins. This has resulted in a series of initiatives such as reducing leg pitch, cramming more seats in economy, extra charges for a variety of services, worse food and drinks, etc. With a strong economy, the past year or so has been especially brutal, as every freaking flight is filled to capacity!

My hatred of air travel is the main reason why I am not as well travelled as my friends. Yeah, it would be nice to visit like 50 f*cking countries, see cool shit, and post pics on my social media. But the pain of getting to and from there? Good lord. Is it really worth it? Not sure.

Aug 9, 2019

I'm with you. Any time I visit another country I have a good time, but its not long before I realize I could've had a good time in the good old USA without all the hassle. The example I remember best is I went to Iceland, had a great time seeing all the mountains and shit, and then on the flight back I see a picture of one of the nicest mountain shots I've ever seen. I'm thinking, wow that looks even nicer than Iceland I should've gone to wherever that is . . Andes maybe? I read the fine print . . Mount Rainier, could've gotten there in 3 hrs. Something like that happens every trip. We almost have it all in the US.

    • 1
Aug 9, 2019
PteroGonzalez:

I'm with you. Any time I visit another country I have a good time, but its not long before I realize I could've had a good time in the good old USA without all the hassle. The example I remember best is I went to Iceland, had a great time seeing all the mountains and shit, and then on the flight back I see a picture of one of the nicest mountain shots I've ever seen. I'm thinking, wow that looks even nicer than Iceland I should've gone to wherever that is . . Andes maybe? I read the fine print . . Mount Rainier, could've gotten there in 3 hrs. Something like that happens every trip. We almost have it all in the US.

America's vast size and diversity are underrated. There are so much stuff to see and do here, but millennial professionals are obsessed with traveling to a cool exotic foreign spot, so they can brag about it on social media. The narcissism of our generation, fueled by social media, has played an important role in elevating travel from a mere hobby to a status symbol, a badge of honor. The more countries you travel to, the more "successful" and "interesting" you appear. It is yet another charade in our depraved hopeless society.

    • 3
Aug 9, 2019

I am friends with a professional pilot. He says the Boeing issue is a nightmare for the industry and has caused a big plane shortage.

    • 1
Aug 9, 2019

If you don't have status on Delta (or any other airline really) you're chopped liver and they don't care about you...

And to get status you have to suffer a ton of travel as chopped liver.

Honestly though your case probably wasn't Delta's fault (depending on what caused the delay). You being delayed probably made your plane lose it's spot at the gates and was forced to wait for another spot to open up that wasn't already allocated to another plane.

Aug 9, 2019
FinancelsWacc:

If you don't have status on Delta (or any other airline really) you're chopped liver and they don't care about you...

And to get status you have to suffer a ton of travel as chopped liver.

Buy a more expensive seat.

    • 1
Aug 9, 2019

Pretty sure status for Delta is a function of both miles traveled as well as dollars of spend. So yeah if the dollars of spend is the issue you can buy nicer seats.

If you're flying first class already and are short on the mileage front then you're outta luck. Most people that don't travel internationally or very frequently have a hard time getting Diamond / Platinum / Gold Medallions on Delta.

Aug 9, 2019

You're right. In Delta's defense it wasn't their fault per se. They were also pre-emptive in issuing an apology. I got an email today saying I would get comp' some miles (not much). While it is a classy move on their part, the economics and frustration just aren't worth it.

It wasn't their fault, but has become their problem.

Aug 9, 2019
FinancelsWacc:

If you don't have status on Delta (or any other airline really) you're chopped liver and they don't care about you...

And to get status you have to suffer a ton of travel as chopped liver.

Honestly though your case probably wasn't Delta's fault (depending on what caused the delay). You being delayed probably made your plane lose it's spot at the gates and was forced to wait for another spot to open up that wasn't already allocated to another plane.

Yeah, it's like making partner at an investment bank: suffer for years before reaching the promised land. The #1 reason why I didn't pursue consulting was the travel. Granted, they fly first class, but domestic first class is vastly overrated, and doing that every week was frightening.

Aug 9, 2019
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Aug 10, 2019
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