The downside of living in Hawaii, as Jim Loomis does, is that one is pretty much stuck with flying to the mainland.
By the time all the “special” passengers had boarded–families with small children, persons needing assistance, first class passengers, Delta SkyMiles members, etc.–there was no room in any of the overhead bins within ten rows of my seat. That meant I had to find space in, on, or under seat 16F for my carry-on tote and for the heavy knee-length coat that I brought with me.

The bag and the coat fit all right, but that really left no room for me. Somehow, by pushing and shoving and severely taxing the good nature of the woman seated next to me, I got settled, but was barely able to move my legs and feet for the duration of the five-hour flight. Thank goodness I had impulsively decided to check my carry-on bag at the Maui airport.

But here’s the thing: Checking the bag cost me $25 and upgrading to that “premium” seat cost an additional $79. My God! What if I hadn’t upgraded to “Comfort Economy” or whatever it is Delta calls those seats? How did the people in plain old “economy” deal with two-inches less leg room than what I had?

We did get a complimentary drink and a snack about a half hour after we took off. The snack was peanuts in a foil bag the size of a pack of matches. I counted the peanuts. There were thirteen. For my drink, I asked for ginger ale. The flight attendant filled a small plastic cup with ice cubes and opened a can of Ginger Ale. She stopped pouring when the cup was about two-thirds full.

Sorry, Delta, but economy passengers –this one anyway — come away from your flights with the very clear impression that we have been run through a wringer and every possible dollar has been extracted. And after all that, the flight itself was crowded and uncomfortable. It’s not a good feeling.

I made a weekend trip to Santa Clara for O Scale West.  Used the automated check-in at Chicago.  Maybe three screens of substance, and more than three screens of up-selling (first class?  more legroom?  membership in Suckers Club?)  I always check my bag rather than stock up on special travel supplies, but then I feel like a fool for having done so when the herder informs the passengers authorized to board late that there's no more room in the bins, and we'll check your bags for free.

Has anyone in an airline run the numbers?  Suppose you check one or two bags for free, and charge for the use of the storage bins?  Might do something about the clutter.

Might also work as a productivity measure.  Departing, 33 minutes or so to load a stretch 737 with the seating capacity of one Metra gallery coach.  On return to Chicago, about 25 minutes to unload the plane.  A lot of that is people making their way from their seats to wherever their stuff is, and gathering their stuff.  Price the congestion differently, might be able to get one or two more trips a day out of the same fleet of planes (note ... fleet, one or more trips a day out of each plane, there'd be no need for airline subsidies.)

Incidentally, that Metra gallery coach I mentioned: its entire passenger load generally disembarks in Chicago in about six minutes, all through one door.  Two Amtrak coaches, each of which has a door attended ...

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