I may not be old enough to have experienced the golden age of airline travel, but I’m certainly old enough to be the grumpy old guy who complains about everything being better in the past. But that’s not the whole truth, of course. In many respects, things have improved (noise level in the cabin, safety, entertainment systems etc.). And all those extra charges don’t so much stem from the evilness of airline managers but from the thriftiness of customers, who go for the ticket that’s $10 cheaper on Travelocity. Also a perfectly rational decision, but made without the full knowledge of what’s included in the price.
I guess what I really bemoan is the loss of that kind of transparency. It used to be that when you’ve bought a ticket, you were quoted a price and that was it. Now, depending where you book or fly from, you get service charges, fees for extra luggage items, airport charges, climate taxes, have to pay extra for a drink etc. etc.
That goes for other industries as well. For example, I used to live in Japan, and going out to eat there is awesome in many ways, and not just because I love Japanese food. Most of the time you have pictures or even models of the food, e.g. a bowl of ramen. Underneath it says 800 Yen. And you pay 800 Yen. Most times, there is free tea and water available. You know what you get and what you pay by the time you walk into the door. When I travel in the US, I am always anxious entering a restaurant, because I never know if there will be some extra table charge or service fee. Then there’s taxes and on top of that, you’re expected to tip a (from the perspective of a European) ridiculous amount. And suddenly you pay $22 for a $9 pho.
It’s not that I don’t understand that there’s all kind of costs and that many businesses operate with a small margin. It’s not that I think the item or service is not worth the price. It’s just that I would like to be in possession of all the facts at the time that I make my decision. Otherwise I feel duped.
Anyway, I’m rambling. But I’m sure some of you will have similar tales of pet peeves!