Where, Oh Where, has all the Glamor Gone?

A couple of years ago I picked up my parents from Miami airport after a long, trans-Atlantic flight. They looked travel weary, but ever-so well dressed for their trip. Really cute, I thought!

I do hanker after the days of PanAm in the ‘50s and long, Orient Express-type train journeys; but, sadly, it’s over.

And, as I believed naively that things couldn’t get more insulting with regards to long-haul air travel, I recently took a 10 hour flight from Miami to Paris (yes, in all that snow!) and was deeply horrified by my torturous experience.

The airline shall remain unnamed – this is a tale of endurance:

  • The Calm Before the Storm: Check-in was smooth and security no hassle at all – so I was thinking naively that this would be a great trip – all boded well for my journey.
  • Boarding Surprise: The plane – ah the plane! Maybe it’s just me, but I had never flown a “little 767” across the pond before…… it was small; smaller than the aircraft I had recently taken to Chicago; the seats wouldn’t recline much, either, I assume so that the person behind had more space. I have learned since that these are common aircraft for some airlines across the Atlantic – but still, I remain in favor of the Jumbo.
  • Where do I put my Duty Free? Very upset travellers could find no space for their hand-luggage – thankfully I paid the extra to get “bumped” up to higher group # and got on the aircraft speedily….. But, really, why did I have to pay to avoid a “scrap” over luggage space after paying $1,200 for a flight?
  • No air, but some light left: I was a little flustered and hot when I sat down, I reached up to turn on my air vent – only to discover there wasn’t one – and I found myself at least being thankful they had left the reading light intact……. Thankful to be able to read on a 10 hour flight – mmmm; at least they are continuing to manage my expectations.
  • Lack of Boredom Control: The thing I like most about long-haul flights is being able to catch up on all the movies I had missed over the last year or so; not so on this travel experience. No individual TVs and, therefore, no ability to settle down over a glass of wine and decide which movies to watch over the next 6 hours or so, before grabbing a couple of hours of sleep; since when did trans-Atlantic flights not provide even the most basic of entertainment to help relieve the boredom?
  • Whine More: And on to the wine……. Yes, the perfect opportunity to “whine more”! Is it really necessary to charge for wine on a long-haul, and relatively expensive, flight? Frankly, I would rather pay $20 more per flight and get the drinks free…. All my fellow French travelers must have been duly horrified; not to mention the chap across the way who was almost “cut-off” after ordering two small drinks…..ouch!
  • And where are my socks? What? No socks or eye-shades anymore?
  • The Extinct Cleaning Crew: I have noticed a rare and lesser-spotted species is getting ever so increasingly rare – if not extinct. Remember when you used to see the cleaning crew waiting at the gate to run on and clean the plane immediately after you deplaned? Anyone spotted any of those recently? Cleanliness; just wasn’t clean, really. The facilities were filthy from just after take-off and my tray was dirty – meaning it hadn’t been cleaned since the last flight – or indeed the flight before that.

OK – so, I recognize the entire air travel industry is bankrupt, and I know that none of what I am reporting is “News” since we have all experienced this level of deterioration in service over the last years; nevertheless, I am still constantly amazed by the lower and lower depths the industry plunges towards in order to manage our expectations in a downward spiral of unpleasantness…. Bring back the glamour, I say!


Sérgio Pinto { 01.07.11 at 8:45 pm }

Oh Jane, I totally agree with you… Here in Brazil our situation is so, but so sad, that a good post from us could be “Where has all the planes gone?”!! Every single flight is always late, the crowd tend to be rude, the food is sad…
The fairs, actually, are getting lower tahn buses, but at least I can have a good nap there…


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