Love traveling, hate flying

It’s no surprise that most folks hate flying.

I mean, what’s to like? You’re stuck in cramped quarters, virtually rubbing elbows with strangers without enough room to pass your neighbor to get to the bathroom, which is smaller than most closets (and some refrigerators). The food is barely passable. The entertainment isn’t as good as the games on your iPad. And the entire time you’re just hoping you don’t catch avian flu.

Last year the U.S. Department of Transportation reported a spike in passenger complaints for 2008. In fact, it was the second-worst year in the past seven for consumer complaints to the industry’s federal regulator.

Fliers complained about everything from airline delays to lost luggage to a lack of empathy on the part of airlines staff when a crisis — even a personal one — occurs.

And lately the complaints have been geared toward added costs such as paying extra for check-in luggage.

To top it off, several airlines just announced it was eliminating or reducing rows in their first-class cabins. Prices will likely remain — but the benefits will be far less than before.

So what’s a desperate traveler to do?

The problem is we can’t do much. Airplane transportation is the fastest way to get anywhere. So you have to put up or shut up, as the saying goes. There’s no way around it.

I can’t say that I enjoy flying, either, especially when you’re traveling from Honolulu to Paris — with stopovers in San Francisco and Minneapolis — en route to a wedding that requires another three hours on a train once we landed in France. We spent a total of 20 hours in the air. That’s way too long for any human with an appetite for real food.

But we did notice a big difference between domestic (Delta Airlines) and foreign airlines (Air France):

• The seats on Air France were noticeably bigger and the area more spacious
• The food on Air France was decidedly better. Portions bigger and — get this — we didn’t have to pay extra for it!
• The pillows — I know, sounds petty — were actually better on Air France, too. It makes a difference in Hour 10, trust me.

Anyone else notice a difference between domestic and foreign service? Anyone actually like flying? Got any alternatives? I’m all ears!


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