Traveler's Manifesto: Spilled Milk #76
A post travel rant
I was so ready to pull the trigger on a love letter to the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami.
I wanted to share behind the scenes photos, videos, some fun places to grab a late night drink and even a little gossip. But then, without warning, the travel day from hell erupted. I took out my list of complaints that I keep memorized, prepared to excoriate the offending airline. But that’s not fair. It’s not right for someone blessed with a platform to use it to drag someone (or a business) without real cause and plenty of tough journalistic facts to back it up. So I reversed course and offer you this, my traveler’s manifesto. If I missed anything, please et me know.
Whomever decided a few months back not to let families with little kids board first, or at very least prioritizing them with “those that need extra time” should be fired. Tired parents with kids, infants, and single moms with their children should all be allowed to board first.
Stop taking profits—massive ones—without upgrading aircraft first. Larger bins would solve so many problems and save time/money in long run.
Electrical outlets belong in every seat. I am writing this from a plane. In the on-board materials in the seat back in front of me is the magazine that claims there are, “outlets in every seat.” There aren’t any unless you are in the exit row or in first class. So roughly 14 people have access to outlets and 150 of us don’t. It’s 2023. It’s a four-hour flight after a four-hour delay and everyone is flummoxed and angry. Outlets make sense.
Paying for food on a four-hour flight is arguably offensive, but let’s accept that for now. The flight attendant referenced the menu in the back of the magazine for our convenience. I ordered the fruit and cheese plate because it didn’t look bad and seemed like a better choice than the other two (as it turns out, these weren’t actually available). What I received was a cardboard box with a .75-oz pack of cheese spread, a 1.5-oz pack of shelf stable hummus, a small pack of 7 olives, a pack of crackers, a small handful of smashed pita crisps in another bag and a teeny tiny cookie that measured a 1/2-inch high and wide by 1 1/2 inches long. So, I guess it turns out the fruit and cheese plate wasn’t really available either. Neither were other easy-to-get packaged items offered on other pages, like candy or other snacks. Anyway, that kind of bait and switch at 35,000 feet in the air is just wrong. The flight attendant was so embarrassed. I didn’t even say anything BTW, that she just handed it to me for free.
People ask how I do it all. The truth is, I don’t. For a few dollars a month, you can support Spilled Milk and the team that makes it.
Speaking of which: Pay your people more! Because of horrible weather, the attendants and gate agents were getting yelled at by customer after customer for something 10000% not in their control. These frontline workers are underpaid.
Cashless systems on board are AOK by me. But if I have to download an app, attach a card to it, and spend 10 minutes filling out mindless forms and telling my phone which of the 9 pictures have a bicycle in it that’s bullsh*t. We all have debit/credit cards. Kids with lemonade stands process credit cards with Square. Come on now airlines, the nice lady next to me didn’t know about the app and was in her late seventies. Our third row-mate and I bought her some food and wine, but what if we didn’t? Don’t make it hard on your passengers. Traveling is tough these days. Don’t make it worse.
Entertainment. FFSake, give your passengers free reliable wi-fi. End of discussion. The plane I am on now requires an app to use free messaging and charges a fortune for wi-fi that doesn’t work. I am a lucky guy. I know how easy it is to provide what we all need because I have flown airlines that invested in the tech and it is a dream. The airport has free reliable wi-fi, why doesn’t the plane? And once again the back of the magazine details a ton of cool entertainment that—you guessed it—isn’t available “at this time.” OMG how hard is this? Just don’t promise me stuff you don’t have.
Airplane seats are awful. We all know that. But don’t make them worse. I pop out the little table that descends from my seat back in front of me or extract it from the arm rest. I open a small laptop. Not one of those big 16-inchers, a small one. When the person in front of me reclines, which is their right, it routinely, on almost every airline I fly on (and that’s quite a few) begins to snap off the screen of my device unless I use lightning sharp reflexes to yank my computer or Ipad back. Just use a better physical recline or tray system or both. I am not even asking for more seat or leg room! I just don’t want a broken device.
The food. It can be good and it can be hot. This is something I know quite a lot about. I have even been asked by airlines about consulting and meal planning and have gotten very close to working with several. I have visited with the kitchen teams and ground teams that provide the meals. I know down to the letter what is/isn’t possible. And you would be shocked to know that it is simply a matter of choice by the airline NOT to provide you with delicious food, hot or cold. The tech and science is available, the kitchens can do it. Within hours of a natural disaster or other crises World Central Kitchen is on the ground cooking hot delicious and nutritious food for our fellow human beings. If WCK can do that, then these huge companies with massive infrastructure in the form of kitchens, staff and other resources can do better. My YETI thermos keeps beef stew piping hot for more than 24 hours in the dead of winter when I am snowmobiling in Minnesota. Let’s do soup and sandwiches! Really good ones. It’s not hard.
We know the tech is there on planes right now to make this work. Why isn’t it?
What’s your worst airline story? I’m dying to know.