Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Junk in the Trunk

So did you hear about the latest scandal? No, not those nude pictures of Prince Harry from his recent "private holiday," although I guess that is pretty juicy. I thought what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas? I guess that doesn't apply to royals caught playing "strip billiards," whatever that is. No, I am talking about the airlines' plan to shrink the amount of legroom in coach seating. Again! Southwest has already done it, and now JetBlue and Canada's WestJet have announced plans to do the same.

Now to be fair, the "shrinkage" adds up to about 1 inch per row, down to 31 inches from your seat to the back of the seat in front of you. And I am pretty sure they take this measurement when both seats are in the upright position. What are they doing with this newly eliminated legroom, you ask? Why they are giving it to other customers who are wiling to pay more for a seat with... wait for it... 38 inches. Are you kidding me?! Now if you are like me, and I really hope you are not, you're thinking that taller people should pay a little more for legroom. But why does it have to come from my seat? According to airline news releases, however, it would seems that there is a class of regular-sized travelers that cannot afford - or their employer won't pay for - business class, and coach is just a little too cramped for them. In a reverse Robin Hood move, the airlines are going take some of your legroom (while charging you the same old price), and sell it to another customer who has a little more money than you do. Call it a "sub-business-but-still-not-sitting-with-the-shmoes-in-coach-class" seat. Jet Blue alone is projecting $150 million in additional revenue from this little switch-a-roo. Nice.

I know the airlines are a business and they have huge costs in terms of equipment, fuel, safety regulations, and more. And I suppose I should be thankful that I can hop on a plane in New York and be in California or even Hawaii later that day. But they just keep taking, and taking. First the free baggage and now the legroom, which by the way, they call "buttock-to-knee distance". And have you seen the in-flight snacks these days, if you get one at all? I got a mylar pack of peanuts on Southwest recently that literally had four nuts in it. There were probably more calories in the packaging. And would it kill them to let me have the whole can of soda, without having to make a scene about it? I fully expect them to start coming down the aisle with a bucket and a dipper to pour some water into your cupped hands. They could take the savings on plastic cups and buy crystal glasses for the first-class folks.

But what are the alternatives? Depending on where you live, the train is certainly an option. Amtrak seats are huge, often have free Wi-Fi, and even have sleeping car options. Plus it is a heck of a lot cheaper. However, if you are outside of the D.C. to Boston corridor, Amtrak does not own the track, and therefore the right of way. So it is entirely likely to get stuck behind a 2-mile long coal train chugging along at 40 mph. And even at top speeds, you're probably not going too much faster than you can drive. But getting to the airport 2 hours early to stand in a TSA line for a flight that may or may not actually be there is no picnic either. Now if you happen to be traveling the East Coast Corridor, and are looking to stay at a downtown timeshare location, then the train opens up lots of possibilities. Trains typically deposit you right downtown near public transportation, and where more and more timeshares are being developed. Washington, D.C., Alexandria, VA, New York City, and Boston all have timeshare rentals and great public transportation systems. So you could save on your transportation, lose the rental car, and save a bundle on lodging as compared with in-town hotels.

Of course trains can get you only so far, and the only other option is driving. The "staycation" has become a popular alternative. Sure the kids would love Disney, but maybe Hershey Park or Six Flags Over Texas are closer to home. Or how about visiting a national park? Did you know that The Great Smoky National Park is within a day's drive of one third of the U.S. population? But there are limits on how much driving you can really do with your family. I think behind drunk driving, family car trips are the leading cause of vehicular deaths. Okay I just made that part up, but who hasn't wanted to kill a family member on a long road trip?

Anyway, I am off to the fitness center here at Carlsbad Seapointe Resort to work on some squat thrusts before my flight home tomorrow. It would seem that you can reduce your buttock-to-knee distance by working some of the maximus out of your gluteus, if you catch my drift.


  1. Air travel gets worse and worse. I thought it was just domestic flights, that was until I tried Ryanair during a trip to Europe, easily the worst airline we've flown. Wrote a post on it:

    Glad to see you're off seeing the world with timeshares I sold them once upon a time and met many people and families that took some great vacations they wouldn't have had they not owned a timeshare.

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