I can't think of anything I love more than travel. The Freedom of movement, the ability to see another country In a matter of hours. To be at home in a foreign land. Travel is not all good though, especially when it becomes stressful for no apparent reason.
On a recent trip to India, I started to see the future of travel, and I didn't like what I saw.
Now when I say the future of travel some things have always been the same but some things are getting out of hand.
I have always said travel isn't expensive. In fact, there is a quote that says "Travel is the only thing you spend money on that makes you richer." Nowadays, it looks like the airlines are the only ones getting richer, and screw everyone else.
I'm a Delta traveler, no secret about it but there are some times I have to use other airlines based on availability of flights compared to my time. Therefore I make concessions to make my travel more joyous, like getting the Citi Advantage Executive Airlines Credit Card. American still has great redemption rates and the card comes with an Admirals Lounge Membership. So imagine my surprise when using the card at the Greenwich Lounge at JFK and was told the card that comes with Admirals Lounge Membership can't get me into an Admiral's Lounge. The Lounge is reserved for Business Class passengers and persons flying on transcontinental flights. (What a waste of $450)
The lounge above gate 32 was the only one I could use and believe me when I say it's nothing to write home about. Considering I don't drink, it's better for me to buy snacks at the airport as it's a better deal. They had one meal option, two soups, and snacks. Can we just chalk this up as a disappointment? Now the lounge at LaGuardia(LGA) should be the blueprint for future lounges.
Next was the flight. Flight 292 from JFK to India. Now I knew something was wrong when the airport terminal had limited internet service. (Plays a role, in the end, keep reading) The flight boarded at 7:40 pm. We were alerted of a 10-15 minute delay due to a mechanical error. (Rather safe than sorry right) The time kept adjusting and adjusting until eventually we were told at 10:25 pm the pilots timed out and could no longer operate the flight. We were told to disembark and miraculously I couldn't make calls to the airline customer service. I had to wait to see an agent, which turned out to be 12:15 am.
I got a hotel for the night (in Lawrence NY) which essentially is next to Queens, a $12 dollar food voucher which is useless in the airport, and a flight 14 and a half hours later.
Where do I start?
The hotel: I got to the hotel at 2:00 am. Why did it take so long you ask? I wanted to go through the entire experience to see what it would be like to have the current facts for this article. I could have taken an Uber which could have gotten me there in 30 minutes. We were told to go upstairs to door F. I got a voucher with a number on it to call a taxi. I called and they say 20 minutes for a taxi. Once upstairs, I waited for the taxi that never showed and called the number back to get the attitude of the receiver. Then the taxis that were there told me I had to wait until they could fill their car before making that drive. I waited an hour for them to have enough passengers going to that hotel before I could get to the hotel. Once I got to the hotel, they had stopped serving food. I was there for four hours before I had to leave and return to the airport. Luckily the hotel shuttle bus made this an easier transfer.
The food voucher: I don't know if they realize but everything in JFK literally costs 3 times as much as it does outside of the airport. (Classic case of supply and demand) This is what a $12 voucher gets you at JFK with no change.
The new flight: The flight went from being Friday night at 8:30 pm to Saturday morning at 10:00 am and still managed to be an hour late leaving at 11:00 am. To put this into context if this flight was leaving Europe I would be compensated $700 under EU 261/2004. (Not in America) I prepaid for a hotel at $300 a night and had a prepaid expense at $200 the very next day. Not to mention half of the $1400 ticket. In the American contract of carriage, you can get reimbursed for the flight only if you deny the replacement flight and they only compensate $150 a day for delays. (presuming you bought additional insurance as I did)
All in all, the experience was horrendous, and it's things like this that make me look forward to the proposed transportation change by the Biden administration even though I don't think anything will come out of it. To think when the airlines needed money just two years ago it was a taxpayer bailout to the rescue and not the same taxpayers can't even get treated fairly in the skies.
I say all that to say this. Travel is heading back to where it was at the start where it's only accessible for the rich. Premium cabin members get the best perks on the ground and in the air and everyone else gets the leftovers.
Customer service in the industry as well needs an overhaul because throughout the ordeal I got some of the worst customer service to date and I wasn't even a hostile passenger. We need an overhaul to the current system and fast.
To summarize: Travel is getting more and more expensive and if the changes do take place the prices will increase because why would the airlines not pass the fees to its customers?
Airlines need to be held accountable for mishaps like this. To run a billion-dollar company is hard work but to lack in so many key areas is abysmal. I think the experience should rival what an Airline CEO would have and if it's not good enough for them it's not good for any of us.
An emphasis is being placed on Business travelers and long-haul flights which is cool. No doubt about it they make up for a bulk of the revenue for the airline but the reason is they can afford it. You could never compare a family with a constraint in the budget to a Fortune 500 company with unlimited resources. It all needs to change.
Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any parties mentioned. None of the entities mentioned has reviewed, approved, or endorsed the content listed in this post.