Travelling by plane has never been cheaper or easier, unfortunately the experience of flying has become almost untenable and something need to change. This has led me to think that air travel should definitely be more like train travel. Hear me out.
I’m not talking literally here, I’m not about to suggest that there should be a Hogwarts Express flying from London to Paris (although come to think of it that would be pretty awesome!) and I do know there are practical operational differences, obviously. I’m not talking about the costs or the length of the journey or anything like that, I’m talking more about the actual experience of taking a train as opposed to flying.
When taking a train you can get to the train station just before it is due without the need to turn up 3 hours beforehand and check in, buy a ticket for wherever you please (or pre book one if you want a better price), wait at the platform, get on the train and sit down in relative comfort until you reach your destination.
That is unheard of when flying.
When getting a train there are no endless and annoying check in lines, no pointless security theatre to go through, no pedantic tin pot security guard touching you up or demanding you unpack your entire bag into little trays because they haven’t bothered upgrading their scanners since 1973. There are no idiots in the security line who wait till they get to the front of the queue to decide to remove everything they shouldn’t be wearing, in fact there are no demands that you do or don’t wear anything specific at all just because security says so. There are no exorbitant airport prices or attempts to steal all your toiletries because they exceed the pointless 100 ml rule and you can actually bring some luggage without entrusting it to a third party ‘bartered at the cheapest possible rate’ labourer who will be guaranteed to chuck it around, break it and probably put it on the wrong plane out of spite. There are just none of the usual airport annoyances that have combined to make flying such a chore in recent years.
Airports have degraded the experience of travel to the point that it is one of the most stressful experiences people can have, and travel should not be like that! Travel should be an exciting, pleasurable adventure!
But even beyond the airport, there is the experience of flying itself. Instead of the cramped (and shrinking) seats on a plane and evil air crew who wield powers to deny your human rights normally reserved for the worst dictators, why can’t we have seats with tables for families in economy? Seats with enough leg room that an actual human being can fit in and none reclining seats so that you aren’t crushed in like sardines? We should be able to get on, have our tickets and passports checked once (not 12 times, I’m looking at you Delhi Airport!) and then just enjoy our journey.
And then there are the airlines themselves. They know they have us over a barrel, they know they have a monopoly, so they have zero incentive to care about the customer experience at all. Of course they pay lip service to customer service but the proof is in the reality of day to day travel. Overbooked flights, cancelled flights, outright lying to and misleading customers, rip off prices that leave passengers feeling fleeced and so much more. The less said about Ryanair the better.
Travelling by train isn’t perfect, but it is straightforward and easy in a way air travel is not. Can you imagine a world where you can get on a plane and travel just as easily and comfortably?
Airlines really need to start doing better.
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