I am now prepared to reveal the secret to having a pleasant air travel experience…
For the most part, I my expectations when I board a flight is to get somewhere safely. If it happens to be the planned destination, so much the better. Anything beyond that is gravy.
This acceptance of the inevitable problems that can arise while traveling by commercial airlines can be traced to growing up in an airline family: my father worked for Northwest for 30 years. So, from age 9 months until I was 21, I traveled as a Non-Rev passenger on employee passes.
As a result, I got used to arriving very early to the airport, scheduling the earliest flight of the day, and being prepared to be bumped and spend the night in the airport.
To this day I try not to schedule myself in a way that I simply have to arrive when the airline says I will. I always try to leave more than enough time to make connections. And if I have to change planes, I use carry-on; baggage handling has come a long way, but I figure why push my luck?
That said, I am finding myself increasingly irritated by people who complain about air travel. Complaints are nothing new: in days gone by, the major complaint was airline food. Hey, you don’t go into a restaurant and complain that you didn’t wind up in another city; the purpose of the airline is transportation, not cuisine.
These days the most common complaints I hear are about late or cancelled flights. It’s a fact of life, so none of us should be surprised when it happens, especially when weather is the cause. The airlines could improve of course, but for the most part, it’s a very complicated system to manage, and all things considered, I think they do a pretty good job…some airlines better than others.
One final rant: I’m done with “road warriors” bitching about their travels. Let me get this straight: you have a job that entails sitting on an airplane and having your living expenses paid for. This is your complaint? Pal, there are 15 million Americans out of work; I’ll bet any one of them would change places with you in a heartbeat. Let’s show a little gratitude, shall we?
I know that travel can be aggravating and tiring. Just like life. So spare me your complaints about how tough your life is because you have to travel for work. Boo hoo.
If you hate traveling so much, I have a couple of suggestions…
- Stop traveling. I suspect many of the trips are simple the belief that you have to be face-to-face. That’s important, but aren’t there some trips that can be replaced with technology?
- If travel is really so painful, take some steps to make it less so. Take control of your travel life and make arrangements that reduce the drama for you. Don’t like the flights you’re booked on? Book ’em yourself.
- Next time you fill out an expense report, imagine that it’s coming out of your pocket. When you get the expense reimbursement, smile and be grateful.
- Change your mind. Lower your expectations and stop being a victim. You are being paid to see the world. Suck it up and enjoy the adventure.