News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 13, 2013

RONN MOTT: No way to fly

Ronn Mott
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — I recently spent a few thousand miles in the air and a whole lot of time on the ground waiting to make connections.  

It absolutely, totally amazes me that we have these great aircraft. They carry hundreds of passengers in rather decent comfort thousands of feet in the air and hundreds of miles an hour in speed. Yet, the getting on, and the getting off, is a bit of a scramble. I guess the world is waiting on the next Bill Gates who will devise a plan in which we will slide easily on and easily off the aircraft. The person that does this will be a billionaire.  

My rousing time in pre-flight started with me missing where my parking spot was to be. As I was going south, I was told it was on the left and I totally missed it. Not a good start for the trip that would take me three quarters of the way across the American continent. I had been told if I paid for my carry-on ahead of time it would be $25. This was erroneous … the carry-on this trip was free, but Frontier’s charging of carry-on luggage is just a matter of time.

The two flights on Frontier Airlines were filled by explanations by the flight attendants that it will be coming and the way to get a break in the cost is book your flights on www.frontierairlines.com. Doing it yourself on the Internet on some travel site, like Expedia, will not help you. And there will be other breaks for you if you use the airline’s website. If you think they’re not making it easy, you are absolutely correct.

I had read some time ago the airline industry made $20 billion with their charges to you for carrying your luggage. I guess I’m getting too old. I remember very comfortable seats, a nice, tidy little meal and a glass of wine with it. And it did not cost anything. Wow, how nice it was.

The hustle, the security checks (“Take off that jacket and kick off your shoes, Sir!”). Those kinds of comments fill the air. In Seattle’s airport, there was a sign that said if you’re over a certain age you do not have to remove your shoes or a light coat. I was over the limit, so I didn’t, and by the time I got through the X-ray device there was a short lady screaming at me who said, “Take off that vest!” Other security people apologized to me … it seems I was guilty of obeying the rules.

On my flight home, my two American flights were late. Leaving Seattle flying to Dallas was only 20 minutes late and then the flight to Indianapolis was nearly an hour late getting back to Circle City. Fortunately, I was not making another connection. Indy was my final destination.

I realize you cannot take ground transportation to a destination 2,000 miles away, especially if you don’t have a month to go and get back. I also realize you are going to spend as little money as you can and the route you will take will be rather squirrely and long. But it is better than going bankrupt going to one town, one time.

I was not part of the flying personnel when I was in the Air Force, but got to fly many aircraft. I always enjoyed it. I rather felt, on this and other commercial flights, like I was part of an animal herd being shuffled into a loading chute. I met some very nice people, which is always a plus, including a young lady who was taking a little kitten from St. Louis to Seattle. Cute.

The only thing I can say about the entire deal is simply this: The best way to fly is not to.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.