Linda Stamper Boyne: Airlines like to show who’s boss
Vail, CO, Colorado
Airline travel has become such a study in contrasts. In some ways, the airlines have made it much easier for travelers to get from point A to point B. But then they turn around and put a complex web of restrictions and policies in place that it requires flow charts and intense strategic planning to figure out.
Technology has definitely simplified the process of flying. How wonderful it is to check in for your flight and print your boarding passes at home? It’s like the airline is handing you peace of mind on a sheet of paper. “Here you go. You’re checked in and you have seats. Relax. You’re good to go.”
You can even take care of checking your bags on the computer. No more need to endure the bored, overworked attitude of the airline employees at the terminal (unless you happen to be flying out of Eagle, where they are a delight!).
But I have to say, I just fundamentally object to paying for my suitcase to ride in the cargo hold. And it has to weigh less than three pair of shoes, a hairdryer, some clothes and a cell phone charger or you get the honor of paying and extra “overweight” fee. It screams size-ism! Just charge me $15 more for my ticket and let’s call it good.
Admittedly, I’ve never been a light packer. A girl just needs her things on a trip and my things don’t fit into a carry-on piece of luggage and “one personal item.” I really don’t want to carry on my luggage. I don’t want to be encumbered by a heavy bag through the airport and then have to jockey for overhead bin space once on the plane, only to have the airline check my bag anyway because there’s no more room among the 75 other small, black, rolling bags already shoved in. Ah, maybe I found the loophole!
I recently carried on to a flight for the first time. Ever. It helped that my boys are big enough now to be mini-Sherpas.
“Buddy, can you please carry this for your mom? No? Well I carried you for nine months and then hauled you around for several more years after that, making my back ache and my shoulder shift into a permanent slump. I think you owe me!”
I think the entire process is just a ploy to remind us that the airlines are the ones in control of us from the moment we press “Pay Now” to buy our tickets. They empower us, make us feel all confident and independent and then knock us back down to plebe status. Nothing does this more than walking up to security screening.
There’s something very infantilizing about it. We’re all back in grade school again. Stand quietly in line and no cutting. Don’t touch anyone else. Turn in your paper with your name on it for the stern, humorless person with the Sharpie to check. You can’t have a drink right now. Empty you pockets and hand over your contraband, i.e. potentially dangerous and life-threatening lip glosses, lotions and hair products, and I’ll keep them in a Ziplock for you until after school.
I have a friend who says one day we’re all just going to strip down to our underwear in front of the conveyer belt, plop everything into one of the gray bins and walk through the metal detectors virtually naked, boarding passes in hand. It can’t be any less embarrassing then being pulled aside, scanned, searched and interrogated. But it does introduce a whole new genre of visual terrorism that TSE has yet to figure out how to eradicate.
The final reminder that you are not in command of your own life when you are flying is now having to pay for that little bag of small, salty, hard pretzels that you really didn’t want in the first place. But after being held captive for hours, only being offered water, it starts to look really good.
And while I respect capitalism and applaud their audacity, I think it’s all just part of their evil master plan to control the universe.
Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards writes weekly for the Vail Daily. She can be contacted through email@example.com