United Airlines or the U.S. Economy?

I’ve been in Europe for the last two weeks, so you haven’t received the unparalleled content that you’ve grown to love. Since I spent about 32 hours traveling, and 21 of those hours in the air, I feel compelled to comment on the state of air travel in the United States.

My flight to Vienna on Austrian airlines was noticeably different than my typical domestic flight. The passengers seemed more patient and less frustrated as classical music filled the cabin. We boarded the plane without incident, and the crew seemed to be in a jovial mood. My trip on the connecting flight to the final destination was the same.

Upon my return home, I had a nice flight to Frankfurt on a German airline that I had never heard of before. Then tragedy struck when I discovered the final leg of my trip would be on the fateful United Airlines. Chaos began to ensue.

The sing songy middle-aged women began to come out of the woodwork. A “ten minute” repair turned into two hours. Passengers lined up and sat back down no less than three times from the misinformation that followed. The entire experience was mediocre and unsatisfactory (These are the terms that I use so customer service representatives are not permitted to hang up on me.)

The truth is that air travel on domestic airlines has deteriorated along with the U.S. economy. There was a time when flying somewhere was a sophisticated experience. People dressed up, and they were not repeatedly warned that “tampering with, disabling, or destroying a lavatory smoke detector,” was a federal offense. Loved ones greeted you at the gate upon your arrival. I even remember boarding a flight about ten minutes before take off in 1997. But after 9/11, these experiences became halcyon memories.

Now airline customers are treated like hostages or even cattle. Yesterday, a video surfaced of a doctor being removed from a United Airlines flight. Fellow passengers recoiled in horror as the doctor was beaten and dragged from the plane. We can only hope that this poor doctor is awarded with the a seven figure “voucher” and permanent Star Alliance Gold status.

So how are United Airlines and the U.S. economy alike? Both of them were formerly sound, reputable and an example to the rest of the world. Now each of them are a like former beauty queen who’s added a 100 pounds but still treats people like she’s some kind of diva. Unfortunately, the best days for America’s economy are behind us, but like our former beauty queen, we’re trying to cover our age with plastic surgery (artificially low rates) and thick make-up (inflation).