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An Open Letter to Disgruntled Passengers

Posted by on June 30, 2013

Have you ever had a really bad day flying where everything seems to go wrong? It’s easy to blame the flight attendants, the gate agents, and the airline. I regularly hear passengers at all airlines swear, “I’m never flying THIS airline again!”, not realizing that the troubles like weather-related flight delays, mechanical problems, and the occasional misplaced bag or catering issue occur at every airline. Some days bad stuff just happens. If you’re tempted to complain about how awful air travel is, read this letter from guest blogger Steve Gould*:

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Working First Class yesterday when a passenger asked whether his luggage would make his connecting flight. When I told him it may not, he rolled his eyes , shook his head and said “flying is HORRIBLE.”

Allow me to offer a bit of perspective, sir. You are sitting in what amounts to a reclining chair, sipping a vodka tonic. While enjoying your drink, you are hurtling along at 600mph toward your destination, six miles in the air. In a moment you will enjoy a grilled salmon salad with fresh mango that is actually quite good. While you wait for your meal you will be connected to a worldwide network of computers that offers nearly instantaneous access to the accumulated knowledge of all of mankind. You will arrive at your destination safely three hours later. A journey of over 1500 miles that not long ago would have taken months, if you survived at all.

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Flying is not ‘horrible’. Being a woman in Afghanistan is horrible. Being a Christian in Lebanon or Syria is horrible. Being diagnosed with liver cancer and told you have only months to live without a transplant is horrible. Flying is not horrible. Inconvenient sometimes, but not horrible.

Along with a bit of perspective, how about a little free market economics? The airline industry in the US is EXACTLY what the travelling public has determined it is willing to pay for. There are alternatives. You can charter a jet and go anywhere, anytime. But it’s expensive. Commercial air travel is faster, safer and offers more choice for less money than ever before in history. Along with that comes the crowded airplanes and terminals. Sorry. You want privacy and a quiet peaceful experience? Fine. It’ll cost ya.

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The airline industry is an enormously large and complicated enterprise. And it is almost entirely dependent upon the Federal government and the weather.
Almost everything you hate about flying, all those delays and pesky rules, are a direct consequence of one or both of those things. It is the Federal government regulations that tell you that you can’t have your cell phone on. When to have your seat back upright and tray table stowed. How many pieces of carry on you can have and where you must put them. When you must sit down and fasten your seatbelt. When the plane can take off. The route it must take to get where it is going and when it can land. What minor mechanical problems can be deferred and which one must be fixed before the plane flies again.

And then there’s the weather.

Given all of this, it’s a minor miracle that around 80% of all flights arrive within 15 minutes of schedule.

So next time you’re tempted to tell me how ‘horrible’ it is to fly…….don’t.

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Looking at this beautiful plane helps you realize what an amazing thing it is to fly!—Beth

To help your kids keep a good attitude about flying, read this post on things to teach your kids when flying and this post about finding fun anywhere.


*Steve Gould is a 30 year flight attendant for a major airline. His wife of 21 years is also a flight attendant and they have 3 great kids, ages 18, 14, and 12. Stephen is also a professional photographer. The work he is most proud of was being the photographer of record for the construction of DFW’s Terminal D and Skylink from 2001 to 2005. After years of shooting everything from weddings and portraits to babies and families, he still shoots some family portraits and Seniors but most of his work now is corporate. For a look at more of his great photography or to contact him, visit Aperture Photography.

 Cloud Surfing Kids is a website/travel blog by flight attendant and mom, Beth Henry. Her husband has flown almost 3 million miles, her daughter Ella has flown over 100 flights and baby John is just getting started on his Cloud Surfing Adventures. Cloud Surfing Kids focuses on sharing tips for traveling with kids as well as posting reviews and giveaways for travel products. Follow Cloud Surfing Kids on Facebook, Twitter, or   Google +. (I’m just getting started on Google +, help me out by adding me to your circle.)