Matt Yglesias, Slate‘s “Moneybox” columnist, has had enough of everyone’s whining. He makes the case that “flying is safer, cheaper, and better than ever”, and “luggage fees are great”:
“American commercial passenger aviation is pretty amazing. It’s time for the flying public to cut the airlines some slack and show a little appreciation.”
Mr Yglesias’s column is a response to a series of posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) by James Fallows at the Atlantic. But it does not acknowledge the fact that it’s possible to celebrate the improvements in air travel while also pushing for more.
There is celebration of air travel. The travel press gives airlines credit where due, and although no array of statistics will comfort nervous flyers, American airlines’ impressive safety record over the past decade has received a lot of attention. Similarly, nothing is going to stop people from whining about shelling out a few hundred bucks for an airline ticket, but the fact that more and more are buying suggests that there’s some public understanding of how cheap air travel has become. And things like Louis CK’s famous routine about the baseline greatness of flying through the air at extreme speeds helped spread the gospel of air travel, too.
Air travellers complain about airlines because their gripes are often effective at forcing improvements in service. In recent years, their complaints have resulted in a new FAA rule that all but eliminated long tarmac delays. Passenger frustration with bag fees keeps Southwest’s no-bag fee policy viable. The best way to get an airline to apologise and compensate you for bad service is to take your complaint to a journalist like Mr. Fallows, who has a national audience.
Air travellers know they aren’t going to be able to force the entire industry and its associated regulatory bodies to change overnight. But lots of complaining can help force small changes that can make a big difference. Old people do not have to take off their shoes at airport security. Kevin Drum may soon be able to bring his pocket knife on board. Airlines have to be less deceptive about their marketing practices.
Whiny air travellers know that they have it pretty good. They just want things to be a bit better. It’s a reasonable request.
NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.