Air Travel Today: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Between new airline fees and passengers going wild on planes, you’re forgiven if you sometimes feel like you’re stuck in a very bad movie. A spate of recent air travel incidents made me think of a spaghetti western – as in, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. With apologies to Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood, here’s a round-up of the latest:

This is really good: find a cheap flight fast

The Good

United holds plane: A delayed passenger got to say goodbye to his dying mother thanks to United employees who held the plane for him – which isn’t always easy.

Southwest poetry: Southwest returns a man’s lost phone but a bit of poetry, including these immortal lines

“It’s always sad when something’s lost, when what is yours is gone;

And the hope that it will soon be found is what keeps you going on.”

[Editor’s note: Literature enthusiasts may want to file this under the following category.]

The Bad

Two ways of looking at this one, but the controversy surrounding the TSA’s decision to allow small knives through security is certainly creating some bad feeling:

Knives on planes good: TSA spokesman Nico Melendez tells FareCompare that these days, by far the biggest potential airport security threat is from explosives. The little knives that will be allowed through security as of April 25 (with non-locking blades 2.36 inches long or less) are “unlikely to result in catastrophic destruction of an aircraft.”

Knives on planes bad: Pilots, flight attendants and even the CEO of Delta have all weighed in against this. One flight attendant who said she deals with unruly passengers “every day” called it outrageous.

More airline fees: United added a home delivery service for checked-bags so passengers can skip the carousel – for those who don’t mind paying a hefty fee, that is. The same airline also added a quicker security/boarding option – again, for a fee.

The Ugly

Bad passengers: There have been a lot of these but a recent incident aboard JetBlue may be one of the more interesting. Its seems a woman seated in one of the elite seats objected when a coach passenger was moved to the seat beside her, due to a broken seatback TV screen. Her concern was the interloper hadn’t paid the premium as she had, and she had point but her solution – allegedly head-butting a flight attendant – resulted in an emergency landing.

Hard to Categorize:

Harlem shake in mid-air: A group of college kids dance in the aisles during a Frontier flight. Some passengers were concerned. Most were amused.

More from Rick Seaney:

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Airlines

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Published: March 11, 2013