Friday, September 5, 2014

'Legroom war' rages as planes grow more cramped

'Legroom war' rages as planes grow more cramped

Most of this is ridiculous.  The problem isn't recliners or non-recliners.  The problem is the airlines themselves.  They provide the bare minimum of comfort in order to maximize profits without actually harming the customers.  Or at least keep harm to customers a collateral effect that's within acceptable operating parameters rather than a goal unto itself.  The seats themselves are designed with comfort and ergonomics as considerations equal or even secondary to the contradictory notion of cramming in as many people as possible within a limited space to make as much money on each flight as they can.  And we've finally reached the point where it's physically torturous to fly economy class.

So now we're pitted against each other in a Darwinian struggle.  Your options are to resort to guerilla tactics in the rows to defend your right to recline versus  your right to have your kneecaps unbruised and to not go crosseyed trying to watch a movie or play computer Solitaire.  Or you can pay more and fly business class.  And we know that's not always possible.

But rather give into air rage and cause problems for other passengers, we need to establish a level of flying etiquette that takes each side's needs into account.  Recliners should recline a little less and maybe buy some kind of head rest-- aren't there some available?-- and non-recliners need to ease up on the Leg Defenders and this idea everyone has to bend to their need to fart around with laptops rather than use the airline-provided entertainment system.  I don't really see the need to use a laptop on a plane when you can read a book or play a handheld game system or something that's less space-involved, but we have these things now and people are wed to them more than they are to other human beings so that's just part of our flying experience nowadays.

More importantly, though, we need to band together as consumers and demand the airlines provide more services and space for their ever-increasing airfares and service charges.  This situation continues because this idea the need of a company to make a profit is an absolute right greater than the need of human beings to be treated with dignity.  And that is just not working.  I can agree to a certain loss of comfort, but if I'm paying a huge dollar amount for a service, I expect that service not to injure me or put me in bodily danger from the other customers.  We shouldn't be locked into a metal tube and poked and prodded by everyone around us-- and then toss alcohol into that volatile mix-- within a space that's barely less cramped than a Mercury space capsule (and their seats were custom molded to their bodies) for hours at a time.  It's inhumane.  And we're paying to be treated inhumanely.

And no, flying is not a right.  I understand that.  But it also used to be a luxurious experience and it used to be customer-oriented rather than treating them as cargo to which a certain amount of damage is to be expected.  The democratization of air travel has been a boon, but it's also increasingly become a disaster, even on short haul flights.  So clearly something has to give.  And as long as we're willing to pay more for less, it's going to be a privilege way pay for in order to spindled, folded and mutilated... and then pitted against each other in gladiatorial combat, apparently.

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