A very good day

There are a lot of things in this life that I don’t understand. One of those things is how airlines assign seats to passengers. When we bought our tickets for our Christmas trip this year I was unable to get seat assignments. The airline was counting on some of the passengers being willing to pay for upgrades to a different category of seating and so even though there were seats available on our flights, none were in the same category as we were. The pricing of airline tickets is so complex that I have never been able to figure out why the airlines put up with the system. With nearly every passenger paying a different price than the other passengers because of discounts, upgrades, the use of points instead of cash and other factors, it must cost the airlines a huge amount of money just to keep track of the pricing schedules. It seems like an airline company could save a lot of overhead by simply setting a price for a particular flight and sticking with that one price.

I don’t understand why people are in such a rush to boar an airline. When we all have assigned seats, it would make sense to simply board the airplane from the back, but that isn’t how it is done. Passengers are assigned to groups according to the fares they paid, the frequency of their travel on that particular airline and other factors. People will stand in line in an attempt to get on the airline as quickly as possible. It isn’t like airline seats are all that comfortable. And the airline won’t leave without you if you are at the right gate at the right time, so there really is no need to rush to board the plane. You’d think that there would be no benefit for first class passengers to board early. Everyone else has to walk by the 1st class seats to get to their seats anyway. A lot of shuffling could be avoided by simply waiting.

I don’t understand why people can’t understand what size bags fit in the overhead bins. The airlines give plenty of information about which bags fit into which spaces. There are limitations of size and weight, but nearly every time I fly there are passengers who are trying to cram bags into overhead compartments that are too heavy and too large for the space. I’m not thrilled that the airlines charge to check bags, but once you’ve paid the fee, your life is much simpler than those who pay no fee and still have bags that are too big.

I don’t understand why people are so afraid of talking to other passengers. I realize that we don’t have a lot of shared history, but for the time of the flight, we are all in the hands of the same pilots and crew. We share the same space. Yesterday was Christmas, for goodness sakes. I smiled at other folks and found out a little bit about them. One mother, traveling the same route as us with her daughter was being responsible and teaching her daughter to be safe when amongst strangers. She also was being friendly to those around her and finding out a bit about them. Her five-year-old daughter too was being friendly. I learned her name, her age, and where she was going simply because I was willing to talk to the 5 year-old. Other passengers in our area seemed to be trying to withdraw into themselves and avoid any conversation at all. They missed some delightful moments with a charming young girl and her mother.

I don’t understand why people won’t try to help others when it is so easy to do so. Our connecting flight was very full and people were having trouble getting themselves arranged. One family of four had been assigned seats in four different rows of the airplane. (I don’t understand seat assignments.) This was not acceptable as the children would be separated from the parents. The flight attendants could not help them, so the were left to negotiate seating on their own. We had two seats in the same row as one of theirs, so I offered to sit somewhere else so they could have two together for the mother and one child. Susan then traded seats so that the two children could sit with the mother. It was no problem for us. We like to sit together, but obviously that isn’t as important as children being with their parent. There were, however, no other people in that area who were willing to trade their seats so the whole family could be together. It seemed like such simple thing to me, but I was amazed at how inflexible some people were. Once again, it was Christmas and we were talking about airline seats. They are all the same and they are all uncomfortable and we were all in the same situation together. You’d think that the least we could do is to be friendly to one another to make the trip pleasant.

In spite of the things I don’t understand, we had a wonderful trip. How could it not be? It was Christmas. We were able to get up in the morning in our own home. A wonderful friend give us a ride to the airport in Rapid City. We had tea and scones in the airport in Denver. We were greeted at the baggage claim in Seattle by our son and two of our grandchildren. We had dinner with the whole family in Mount Vernon - all on the same day. Our grandparents would not have been able to fathom such luxury of travel.

We also exchanged pictures and text messages with our daughter and son-in-law in Japan all along the way. Despite the things I don’t understand, we gain enormous benefits from modern communications and travel technologies. We are incredibly fortunate to live in the time we do.

Santa’s sleigh might have taken the form of a crowded airliner for us yesterday, and the joy and the laughter couldn’t be dimmed by the presence of a few grumpy people. I may not understand, but that didn’t stop me from having a truly blessed day.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!