One More Reason to Take the Train.

The summer travel season is upon us and already travel experts are putting out the word: Brace yourself!

Here’s half of the problem: The pandemic is supposedly over and people who have put off travel because they were afraid of getting sick are now either feeling confident that they won’t get sick or they’re fed up and just don’t give a damn.

Here’s the other half: Travel experts all agree that there’s going to be a huge travel boom. The signs are already there. And the airlines are gearing up for it.

How? One way is by reconfiguring their planes to accommodate more people. That means less room for everyone unable to pay for a first class seat and that’s damn near all of us.

Anyone who has flown recently will have shuddered at those two words “less room”. How can there be less room when there’s already not enough?

We’re already paying extra for another three inches of space between us and the woman next to us. And if the guy sitting in front of me reclines his seat, I’ll spend the rest of the flight looking at the top of his bald head.

And what about the gall of the airlines: they take away a few more precious inches of space from everyone on the plane by squeezing all the rows together just a bit more. Then they sell three or four of those inches back to a few dozen of us at $40 an inch!

Tonight, as it happens, I’m flying  to the U.S. mainland from my home in Hawaii and I have three more inches of space for my knees. They call it “extra comfort”.

Of course Hawaiian Airlines didn’t “give” me anything. I paid an additional $40 for each one of those three precious inches and I can tell you from a great many flights back and forth to the mainland over the years, by the time we get to Oakland tonight, five hours after leaving Maui, I’ll be wishing I could have bought another couple of inches.

I’m not necessarily a fan of government regulation, but the folks in charge of overseeing the aviation industry had better start taking a hard look at what the individual airlines are getting away with. Do we really have to wait until there’s an accident and 250 people have don’t have enough time to evacuate the plane?

It’s a very real, very legitimate concern. And it’s just one more reason why I take the train.