Why I’ve had enough of cheap-as-chips air travel
PUBLISHED: 07:33 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:20 20 April 2017
Opinion: Rachel Moore has had enough of cheap air travel. It’s time to get back in the car instead.
You get what you pay for. Cheap air travel brings cheap service.
With recent examples of customers who might end up bruised, literally, from horrific customer ‘care’ and sneery crew, passengers should be telling cut-price airlines they have had their fill. They are on serious notice to sharpen up their act.
Flying used to feel glamorous. A special treat. Not ‘60s Pan Am stylish perhaps, but a luxury to save, plan and look forward to, an enjoyable start to any holiday.
Now it’s as cheap as chips and as bad for your health, a pain to be endured before you actually arrive on holiday.
Flying is a conveyor-belt experience not for the faint-hearted or for anyone with hypertension or of a nervous disposition.
A packed bus in 100-degree heat in 1950s Calcutta would be more appealing than an early morning cut-price short-haul flight.
Travellers are sick of being treated like a lobotomised sheep because they paid £50 not £500 to see a new city.
Our mania for overseas mini-breaks has helped to create the pack-‘em-in cramped airless cattle transporters we know as planes.
Cheap ticket prices mean people miss flights like buses and trains. Airlines have wised up and overbook. If everyone who has bought a ticket turns up, staff chuck off the surplus people.
Simple, but those ‘surplus people’ have paid for their flights and expect to travel, as we saw in the case of United Airlines and two people escorted off an overbooked easyJet flight last week, ready to be at home for work or start a holiday, not bumped off their flights.
To add insult to injury, disgruntled passengers say they get the feeling airline staff find the process of who to throw off first an amusing diversion from long days dealing with the drunk and the dull.
Have you ever tried booking a break with the special offer cheap breaks that pop up regularly in emails? Three nights in a lovely European city for just £99 sounds great – until you buy your voucher and call to book the flights.
The flights they can offer are the worst, arriving in the dead of night and leaving before dawn – unless, of course, you pay another £100 for better ones. Then come more hidden charges, on top of the inconvenience of flying out of Gatwick and into Heathrow.
We’re paying for cheap and the airlines are laughing.
So I’m joining the movement to sack the plane and take the car instead.
A road-trip and ferry crossing might take days but I’ll take that to escape from hell 12 kilometres in the air, squashed between a guy with verbal diarrhoea and halitosis and a mother wresting with a screaming teething baby.
The trouble is, we want better but aren’t prepared to pay for it. We’ve wanted those cheap mini-breaks in Venice, Rome and Budapest.
But I’m tired of over-priced parking miles away from the terminals, struggling with luggage on shuttle buses, the queuing, the security tussles, the stupid fuss about sorting tiny toiletries in to plastic bags and the stupidly-restrictive luggage allowance.
And then there’s fighting past stag parties on their seventh pint at 8am to get a coffee, walking miles to boarding gates, shattered, grumpy and frayed even before boarding aircraft that smell of three-day-old microwave chips.
The novelty of cheap flights has worn off. We have seen the brutal consequences of airline overbooking.
Road trips are where it’s at, re-discovering our land by road, taking our time at our own pace.
This year, while friends fly, I’ll be driving to meet them in Ireland for a wedding and a week’s holiday.
I can do it in my own time, drinking in scenery, pottering along stopping off to visit friends on the way.
A car and ferry crossing buys me freedom and independence, space to pack what I like, no fussy restrictions, dismissive staff, uncomfortable seats - and no chance of being bumped.