There was a time when flying to your destination was the ultimate luxury.  Remember the airline commercials?  The slogans said it all.  "Something Special in the Air".  "Fly The Friendly Skies".

We just might be lucky here in San Angelo.  Most of the airlines pulled their little disappearing act awhile back.  We gave in to whatever they wanted to get them to operate here.  They took everything we offered, and then left.  When it comes to airline service, it doesn't get much worse than trying to fly out or in to San Angelo.

Little did we know, these airlines were actually doing us a favor.  Flying today is a major nightmare.  The horror stories just keep piling up.  Delays, cancelled flights, long lines at the security checkpoints are common.

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There are stories galore of nightmare flying stories.  Recently, a large group of American Airlines passengers waited through a five hour delay in Charlotte trying to get to their destination in Boston.  Finally, they got on the plane, only to be told a short time later they would have to de-plane because the pilots were over their allotted flying time.

Recently, my mother in West Virginia had a stroke. I needed to fly to her bedside. After booking a flight, I drove the four plus hours to Dallas to catch a flight to Charleston, West Virginia via Orlando on Southwest Airlines.  Two hours before the flight, it was cancelled and the airline told me the soonest I could get on standby was three days later.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
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Social media is full of stories much worse than mine.  People are spending days locked in a nightmare scenario of flight cancellations and lost baggage.  I think what makes everything worse is there are no ramifications for the airlines.  They can literally treat their customers anyway they want and there seems to be no ramifications.  Just try calling customer service for an airline these days.

I guarantee it will be the longest hold you ever spend.

The statistics are interesting.  Airlines are blaming the bad service on lingering problems caused by the pandemic.  However, the statistics are showing that airline performance is only slightly worse than it was in 2019 before the pandemic. For example, the percentage of cancellations so far this year vs. a comparable time in 2019 are 2.8% vs 2.1%

Airline experts warn that you should never book the last flight to anywhere during the day, unless you have some points saved up at the latest airport Marriott. Also, be aware that low cost airlines like Jet Blue and Spirit have the highest percentage of cancelled flights. The worst airports for cancelled flights are LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International in the New York City Metro. There are also big delays and cancellations this summer out of Love Field in Dallas and Chicago's Midway as well as all the airports in Florida.

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash
Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash
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I don't understand why major airports don't just open hotels inside the terminals. The airlines could offer extra low rates to people who can prove their flights were cancelled.  Maybe a free complimentary cocktail to ease the trauma of flying.  Here's another idea, convert those shoe shine stations into walk-up yoga or psychological counselling stations.  That way, frustrated travelers could enjoy some relief from the pressure of missing that important business meeting, or wedding or whatever important event you are flying to attend.

Today, the skies are not that friendly and something special in the air is a flight not cancelled. Progress is great isn't it? If you're flying this summer, expect the worst. At least then, you won't be surprised when it happens.

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