Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dear Airlines, You Suck

I've blogged about this before quite a bit, but I want to note again that in practice the Great Travel Compromise--paying for two seats as a passenger of size--sucks. It sucks. If you don't have unlimited funds, you are fucked.

I have been wrestling with travel plans for a trip to a city about 16 hours away by car (I don't have one). Looking at buses, trains, and planes, I have the following options, ranked in order of least desirable (5) to most (1), where X = a certain amount of travel money:
5. two-day bus ride with night sleeping in Penn Station (one seat) (1/2 X)
4. two-day train ride with night sleeping in Penn Station (one seat) (1/2 X)
3. flights to "nearby" cities with (coming) five-hr drive and (going) one-day drive/overnight stay added (two seats) (X)
2. flight to location (one seat) (X)
1. flight to location (two seats) (2 X)
Which leaves the winner:
3. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >
--two seats on Southwest, with an additional 30 hours of travel added, available only (note) due to the generosity of a friend.

There is an airline (options 1 and 2) that flies directly to the city in question, which you would think--option 2, I mean--would be the best, but if there are no empty seats to put next to my seat assignment (on a smaller plane than normal), I will be required to buy an additional seat and/or be bumped. A chance on which I cannot afford to gamble. If I had the funds (well over $1,000) I could avail myself of option 1 outright. (Note: I called this airline to tell them they were losing my travel dollars.)

So Southwest it is. I would prefer at this point (kevinsmith) to not fly them just to make a point, but I am forced to accept the situation. As ever. I am gambling on getting my money back from my second seat, money which is out of my pocket and in Southwest's for the month regardless. This will happen if there are any empty seats/seats occupied by airlines staff, but I cannot count on it.

I feel squozed. I am squozed.

If I were feeling riskier I might actually try option 2--which would make sense, yes--flying to where you are going? omgnoway--and hope that there was room for me, but I am not willing to risk the safety and comfort of myself and other passengers, nor the potential hassle and humiliation for myself.

So I pay for my size with thirty travel hours. 30 hours or two times as many travel dollars.

As a large person, I accept the travel compromise--barely. Fitfully. I understand that I am lucky to even grapple with the problem. But I feel that it's important to illuminate what the dilemma looks like in situ. It sucks.