April 7th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Has airline travel become more pleasant?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Airline travel may be improving; and that's a good thing because it couldn't have gotten much worse. A private study based on government statistics found the rates of lost bags, late arrivals, passengers bumped from overbooked flights, and consumer complaints all declined in 2008; and the industry actually had its best overall performance in the ratings in 4 years.

Half of all complaints involved baggage or flight problems like cancellations or delays. And the average on-time performance was three percentage points better than 2007; although almost a quarter of all flights were still late.

One expert says the improved performance isn't surprising because 2007 was the worst year for airlines in the study. It's believed that in 2007, the air transport system had reached capacity with 770 million travelers. Last year, that number was down to 741 million and airlines are reporting weak demand for the first quarter of this year.

But even if airline travel is improving, there are still issues. High fuel costs and a sluggish economy forced many airlines to reduce schedules, raise ticket prices, and tack on fees for everything from luggage to pillows.

The most outrageous fee probably comes courtesy of Ryanair - the CEO of the Dublin-based airline wants to charge passengers to use the toilet in-flight. He's asked engineers at Boeing to design toilets with doors that open only if you swipe a credit card. He'll change his mind when people start going in the aisles.

Here’s my question to you: Has airline travel become a more pleasant experience lately?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Keith from Ohio writes:
Jack, I took several cross-country trips by Greyhound bus before I ever flew anywhere. Once you've spent 50 or 55 hours on the 'big silver dog,' it's hard to get too upset about inconveniences in the air. If I can have a late lunch on one side of the country, and dinner on the other side, I'll put up with a little hassle along the way.

Willie from Weston, Florida writes:
Jack. Yes, airlines are as pleasant as getting fondled by porcupines: the absurd security, the ridiculous waits on lines, the endless bureaucracy and the love affair between stupidity and lack of creativity makes it a portrait of comfort and desirability.

Theresa from Atlanta writes:
Are you nuts!? No other industry in this country can legally take your money, give you a ticket and then turn you away at the door because they sold your seat to someone else.

Lynn from Columbia, Missouri writes:
No. People are just getting more resigned to the way it is.

Patricia from Boise writes:
As seldom as I can afford to fly, I don't have a lot of data to go on, but I do know one thing: Compared to the cross-country road trips with my small children in a station wagon with no AC (it was a frill then, remember?), flying rocks - luggage fees and all.

Noel from New Hampshire writes:
Jack, As a 60,000 mile-a-year or more frequent flier, I find it really hard to use "pleasant" and "commercial air travel" in a positively worded sentence. My approach is to assume I'm going to be delayed, lied to, mistreated, re-routed, stranded, have my bags sent to Mozambique, and have most of the trip go wrong. This way I'm never disappointed, find it hard to get stressed out, and am occasionally pleasantly surprised.

Mike from Florida writes:
I suppose it depends on whether I'm flying to or from Buffalo!

Filed under: Airlines
soundoff (198 Responses)
  1. Mark, Bradenton,FL

    No I fly frequently to the UK and US airlines are just to expensive and can't get their act right.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  2. Charlie in Belen, New Mexico

    I wouldn't know.... But then I can't afford to do ANY traveling in this economy.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  3. Al Bledsoe in Dallas

    I am traveling more now, and I hate it. It has gotten worse.


    April 7, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  4. Michael and Diane Phoenix AZ

    NO. Security lines, removing your shoes, over priced airport food, long layovers between flights, and then when you finally board and take your seat, there is no leg room, lines to use the restrooms, and even having to pay for blakets or pillows, what do you think?

    April 7, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  5. Jason, Koloa, HI

    I can't afford to fly so I wouldn't know.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  6. David Bebeau,Springfield Missouri

    Yes it has and will continue to be as long as the do not take shortcuts
    in the shop to save money.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  7. Ed in Arizona

    Indeed it has. I stopped flying last year.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  8. Rob of Brooklyn

    are you kidding its a nightmare . The flight attends all have an attitude. Their surly , nasty .Flights are always crammed now . The scales that weigh the luggage are fixed in Florida–they have an extra 10lbs on them .
    Jet Blue is about the only good flights–the new terminal @ JFK is amazing

    April 7, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  9. Bill .............. Austin, TX

    When was the last time that is "was" pleasant"?

    April 7, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  10. Lisa in Ga

    I don't know Jack.... I cannot afford to fly! You should be asking the bailed out CEO'S this question.. sheez!

    April 7, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  11. Rick Medina,OH


    There has been no real change for me. I have been a business traveler for 18 years. I buy my tickets on-line, I get upgraded to first class on nearly every flight, I go through security in a much shorter line, and I'm first on-board in a comfortable leather seat. But, I see less stress among those in tourist class. The lines are shorter, and fewer are being 'bumped' due to over-booking. The recession has affected air travel severely, but it has created some pleasant side effects to travelers, including much cheaper fares.

    Rick, Medina, OH

    April 7, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
  12. Jenna Wade

    Has airline travel become a more pleasant experience lately?

    Last week my husband was on a 12 hour flight on SCREAMING BABY AIRLINES. He couldn't get an upgrade even though he has close to a MILLION MILES of travel on this airlines and he was stuck in a middle seat in COACH with the seats so small that a 10 year old was too big for it and his knees up his nose.

    Pleasant? Not exactly the phase he used when he called me!

    Roseville CA

    April 7, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  13. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    That hasn't been my experience. I travel on business every month and what I have found is that the airlines have cut the number of flights in order to fly planes at full capacity. When every single seat is filled, it does not make for a more "comfortable" or "pleasant" flight.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  14. Joe in DE

    Not really, fewer non-stops.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  15. Terry ,"Tree City" Greensburg, IN

    Jack, only when they have 'designated smoking areas'.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  16. juli

    If being herded like cattle on moderadetly maintained transportation is pleasant,then yes

    April 7, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  17. Kevin in Dallas, TX

    Absolutely not. We need to do something about these guys while we're cleaning house. A fee to book your flight, a fee to check your bags, a fee for curb-side check-in, a fee for a paper ticket, a fee to choose your seat, a fee for a blanket, a fee for a pillow, a fee for headphones, a fee for a window seat, a fee for an aisle seat, a fee for being overweight. How long until there's a fee for calling the stewardess?

    April 7, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  18. David,San Bernardino,CA.

    No! I think a German prison camp was more civilized then flying.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  19. kishen c.rao

    in fact it has become the most pain in the tush....no coffee, no coke, no snack...i flew in us air...to sandiago..nothing given..even water we had to pay...we are pouring lot of money in other nations...we are suffering in USA...sad..Bush!!!

    April 7, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  20. Judie from St. Augustine, Florida

    I cannot personally address that question as I stopped flying almost 20 years ago and I do not miss it one iota. From what I hear via the news it is not more pleasant just more expedient than other modes of transportation.

    St. Augustine, Fl

    April 7, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  21. Chris from Philly

    The only things about air travel that has gotten better is the slightly higher likelihood the seat next to me will be empty. I am still sandwiched, my knees touch the seat in front, still pay $200 buck more than the guy next to me and most likely gonna arrive late...

    April 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  22. Gigi in Alabama

    I tell you what Jack, I'll let you know the next time I have to fly. Flying has never been the most pleasant thing for me since I am terrified of flying.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  23. Pablo in Tejas

    Have pigs begun to fly?

    Arlington Texas

    April 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  24. Terry from North Carolina

    I wouldnt know I cant afford to fly anymore !

    April 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  25. John from Alabama

    Jack: Air fares might be less, but who can afford to fly. My friends who fly for business tell me that Delta treats people like so much cattle. US Air trys to be nice to the passengers, but wait times are longer at the gates. Southwest are the best and cost less to fly, therefore; Southwest Airlines wins. Hooray!!!!

    April 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  26. Ed Reed

    Jack, it's important to maintain our perspective. As a boy, my grandfather traveled by horse-drawn wagon from Texas to Oklahoma. If he were alive today, I think he would prefer to fly, even with what we, today, call inconveniences. For one thing, the exhaust doesn't smell as bad.

    Ed Reed
    Port Aransas, TX

    April 7, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  27. Diane, Barneveld, NY

    I refuse to fly on a plane that I have to be searched before I can board, but I have a relative that gets pulled out to remove his shoes, etc. EVERY time he flies, which is twice a year round trip. He looks like a terrorist because he's young, has long hair, a mustache, piercings, wears blue jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. Isn't that how terrorists look today?

    April 7, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  28. Ken in NC

    I don't know. I have not been able to afford the cost of a taxi to the air port and a Limo is out of the question.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  29. Tina Tx

    I have not been on a plane since the early 1990's and from what I see on the tv, no. They treat people like cattle going to slaughter by herding them through the check points and not even letting them have a cheap sack of peanuts before reaching their destinations or making them pay for it.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  30. Mike S., New Orleans

    Heck no. You are practically strip searched to get on the plane, and they jam pack all their tiny planes cramming passengers into their tiny seats and then they nickel and dime you until you land. It gets worse with time and it is no wonder the airline industry will be next in line for a bailout.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  31. Kim in Dodge City, KS

    A more pleasant experience? Compared to what, a full body cavity search?

    April 7, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  32. Richard McKinney, Texas

    Jack the last time I took a commercial flight they lost my luggage and I was on a direct flight. They then tried to charge me to use the restroom in flight. I spent 4 hours in line for airport security screening. I sat for 12 hours in an airport terminal waiting on a return flight only to find out it had been canceled and i had to spend a hundred dollars to stay in one of the last hotel rooms available. I had to buy a 3 dollar bottle of water to drink on the flight home because water is not free anymore. I was blessed with a lone mother traveling with 3 very young children who kicked the back of my seat the entire flight.

    Are they getting friendlier? They better be because with the service they provide they are just a breath away from being beaten to death by their passengers

    April 7, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  33. Tom, Avon, me, The Heart of Democracy

    If by pleasant you mean entertaining, absolutely. Republican Senator David Vitter showed up 20 minutes before take off. The gate was already closed. Rather than do what you, I, any God fearing tax paying citizen would do, he took it upon himself to open the gate and sound the alarm. When he was challenged by airline personnel rather than hide his identity He demanded, "Do you realize who I am?!" He didn't want them to have to do a John Doe warrant, I guess. It must have been that kind of thoughtfulness that got him re-elected.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  34. Dennis North Carolina

    NO, just less people traveling on planes so less hassle.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  35. Mike Syracuse, NY

    Jack, I travel by air almost every week. It has been more and more painful. Although I was amazed yesterday when on a Northwest flight I got free peanuts again. Of course I still had to pay $10 extra for an aisle seat and $15 for my checked bag, and the flight was an hour late, so I don't see much of a positive trend. I cracked up when I overheard a deadheading Northwest pilot comment to the flight attendent 'that was painful' when deplaning. Maybe he didn't get any free peanuts.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  36. Kirsten from Tuscaloosa, AL

    Jack, what airline have you been flying? The ordeal I have to put myself through every time I fly home (fees for my first checked bag, having to practically strip naked every time I have to go through security, etc.) makes me want to just stay away at college this summer.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  37. Chuck in Sheboygan, WI.

    Not on any airline I've been on lately. Security still is bogged down by the idiots that forget their cellphones or shampoo. Then I'm forced onto smaller regional carriers more often, with no legroom and a 300 pounder next to me. Delays are more common, so if I finally do get off the ground I get to look forward to hours of being cramped and hungry because I forgot to eat before the flight. But my luggage did make it–just to the wrong airport.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  38. The Broker.

    After 40,000 plus; miles. I hope I never have to fly again.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  39. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: Very pleasant for the airlines and their fees that they are charging-–they are flying "united,"---united with your pocket book. Funny how the airlines are always loosing your luggage-–but they never loose your check or credit card receipt-–pleasantry at it best......

    April 7, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  40. Jeff in Glen Carbon IL

    I don't think so. The fact that I have to partially disrobe and take all my toiletries out is a nuisance. Paying for luggage is inconvenient and stupid, although you can get out of it on full flights by taking it to to the gate and voluntarily gate checking because they no longer have cabin space because of the stupid upcharge, but then you have to purposely decide to partially disrobe and unpack repack your toiletries for a ll the world to see.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  41. odessa

    i don't know yet because i refused to fly any airplanes.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  42. Diane/Allentown PA

    Ha! Swipe a card – are they picky what card, I'll be glad to swipe my AARP card!!! Another benefit courtesy of AARP!!!

    Or here's a better idea – we'll just start bringing extra quart ziploc bags. As long as their closed and "everything" fits, that falls within the TSA rules doesn't it?

    We can hand them over as the flight attendants are clearing out the booze bottles and soda cans!!

    April 7, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  43. Simon Dreyfuss

    New York

    I sure hope so I'm flying from DC to New York later tonight.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  44. Laurie in Lawrence, KS

    No way, Jack. I hate to fly. I hate having to be practically strip searched. I hate that I can't realy bring anything on board anymore. Flying has become such an ordeal. I only do it if I absolutely have no other alternative. I say that if you have the time, drive and see some of this great country of ours.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  45. toni boutwell, myrtle beach, SC

    We gave up air travel when the Bush regim seized power in 2000, and from the horror stories I hear from friends who have flown I see no reason to start again. They've lost thier reputation along with thier integrity, and it will take years to regain it.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  46. David Alexandria, VA

    Yes - definitively so. I think that the lighter passenger load has helped. The fees are moderating to demand and push-back and will find a level. In any case, they're generally fine as long as you plan for them. (The bathroom fee will never fly - so, I'm not too concerned about that one.

    But, I do wish that while they're at the pricing computers, they would figure out a way to charge super-sized passengers for the two seats they seem to use. More weight, more fuel, more cost I have to bear - not to mention the gross overflow into my seat. A little consideration by the pricing gurus and the regulators on this one would be appreciated.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  47. Donna Wisconsin

    Excuse me, Jack! But who can afford to travel on a plane? And any travel we will do, will be by car and VERY close to home.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:18 pm |
  48. Kerry Diehl

    It’s a simple case of perspective and “Mind over Matter” ….if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter!

    Travelers should realize they are ONLY buying a ticket for transportation from Point “A” to Point “B”.

    How does airline travel compare with scheduled times and all the services provided by bus or train companies? ….Does anyone even check or complain about them like the airlines?

    Baggage problems result when individuals travel with everything but the kitchen sink even if just for a weekend (believe me! Hah! ...just watch my wife pack for an afternoon outing!).

    Also, it amazes me how everyone crams everything imaginable into overhead bins! Try a South American flight and I be you could build a ’57 Chevy from all the car parts brought on board!

    Other forms of transportation charge high prices for meals or stop only for a few minutes to allow you to grab a sandwich. Meals, other than provided by the airlines, is something that was never a freebie by the rest so get used to it.

    The gist of all this resides in the fact we should all relax and go with the flow! Airline delays usually are caused by:

    Weather: (You can’t get mad at God or Mother Nature!)

    Mechanical: (I don’t want to go that high up in something broken!)

    Air Traffic: (Just like coming home from work in your car. Hey! … why get mad as only your blood pressure goes up first and usually the highest.)

    THE BIGGEST REASON: The pilot is still reading your book “Now or Never” and won’t leave till the end of the next chapter! – Geez, Who can get mad at him for that Jack???

    April 7, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  49. Kevin in CA

    Does having a root canal ever feel more pleasant?

    April 7, 2009 at 3:27 pm |
  50. Jay in Texas

    Jack, I haven't flown on an airplane since 1972. I think flying is a symptom of suicidal behavior.
    Brownwood, Texas

    April 7, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  51. donna tobin

    I frequently travel from Logan to West Palm Beach and find Jet Blue the best choice. Regarding the amenities, rather than nickle and dime us to death, airlines should just charge us $10. or so more and get over it. We all understand that everything has gone up in price.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  52. Lynn, Columbia, Mo..

    No. People are just getting more resigned to the way it is.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:31 pm |
  53. Karen, Idaho Falls, Idaho

    Hi Jack,

    Southwest is the only way to go. Their rates are lower than other airlines, they don't charge for baggage, their employees are friendly and make you feel like they really want your business, and they are rarely late arriving at their destination. Bravo! Southwest Airlines–all of the other airlines should follow their example.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  54. Michael H., Albuquerque, NM

    Traveling by airline is never pleasant. With newer, more intrusive security procedures it is ever more painful. I work as a security officer ar the airport. I can assure you that there are much easier ways for terrorists to walk past security. I won't tell you how. But, the process that the public must go through is completely useless and only serves to control us and terrorize us by other means.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  55. Scott in Canada

    Airline travel? Haven't been able to afford that to know

    April 7, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  56. Billy G in Las Vegas

    are you serious, Jack?

    I'm a retired airline captain that saw the industry standards of service decline over the last three decades. I don't know how flight crews can stand flying now days much less the flying public. my wife and I have lifetime free passes and we never travel by air unless it's an emergency. it's a total pain in the "empennage".

    April 7, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  57. George, Dunedin, Florida

    I wouldn't have a clue, the only time I fly anymore is when I take my medications. It's hell to get old Jack, although you don't feel the pain.....

    April 7, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  58. Paulette,Dallas,PA

    No. We flew to Key West for Christmas. The Southwest flights were fine but the ConAir(part of Continental) was terrible. On our return we arrived at the Key West Airport at 1:00pm for a 3:00pm flight back to Ft. Lauderdale to hook up with Southwest. They moved our flight time to 5:15pm and never notified us nor told us when I called to confirm the day before. I found out that this change was made in November. So we sat inside the small,dirty airport for 4 hours. Then the plane was not what I booked. It was a tiny plane the scared the hell out of me. We never would have made our connection in Ft. Lauderdale if it weren't for a kind Southwest supervisor that escorted us all the way to the gate. No Jack,I don't think service has improved at all.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  59. Dan from Alliance, OH

    I would think it depends on which airline you take. Some are still terrible but a few seem to be improving by reducing the number of flights.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  60. Ron from SF

    I gave up flying before one had to take their shoes off and wonder why anyone would put themselves in the worst combination of private enterprise and government, ever created? Airlines cut back on maintenance and the government has obsolete computers and stressed out Air Traffic Controllers, making the risk needlessly higher. You give up your right to privacy, the moment you book your flight and subject yourself to the outrages of Fatherland Security and if you opposed the Bush Administration, then chances are you’re on the no fly list, so the whole exercise was an effort in futility. Or, if you’re lucky, you can wait in line for hours, be subject to strip searches, endless questions and then give up your nail clippers, bottles of water, mouth wash and of course risk loosing your luggage. If you're lucky, the plane will only take off 2 hours late and by then the toilets run are full. Crying babies, no more food or water, movies that won't play and then a bumpy ride! What fun!

    April 7, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  61. Karen - Nashville TN

    Possibly, Jack, but only because we're so exhausted by all the procedures leading up to and including boarding that we sleep through the flight.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  62. Paul S. Columbia, SC

    I am old enough to remember when people dressed up to take a plane to anywhere and it was an elegant way to travel. Nowadays they just might as well paint a picture of a running dog on the sides of all the planes. It's about the same except there are wings on each side.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  63. Ralph Nelson

    Wouldn't know, but the airplanes are retiring planes like crazy trying to cut costs, latest is the 737 (burns too much fuel). Ralph, Yakima, Wa.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  64. Cori

    Jack, did you say "improving"? How is an increase in bogus fees, in just about everything, an improvement? If airlines claim they are "improving" service, then I'm the Easter Bunny who will be delivering Easter baskets to their homes Sunday morning.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  65. Linda in Arizona

    I don't know. I wouldn't fly again if you paid me.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  66. KarenB, centralFlorida

    From all I've heard, including your remarks, I doubt it. Costs, waits, losses of luggage, general fears we've all come to expect, makes driving or not going anywhere a definitely more pleasant sounding means of travel. I know we only "hear about the planes that crash", there are hundreds that don't - but seems like more and more the
    ones we "hear about" are increasing (for whatever the reasons).

    April 7, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  67. Dan, Chantilly VA

    Better? Sure, but that's not saying much. What I want to know is when will the airlines switch to the only fair pricing system: charging by the pound. The price you pay should be based on total weight, you plus your bags. The cost to the airline to transport you from A to B is directly dependent on weight, so why isn't my ticket? If you don't want to get on the scale, you can drive.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  68. Greg, Ontario

    No it's the same old, same old, only now it costs more money and it's more of a headache.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  69. HD in Phoenix, AZ

    Not at all. They still treat passengers like cattle and depending on the airport you use, some are worse than others. Seattle SEATAC is the among the worst as the caliber or people that some airlines hire there are the most useless and should be garbage truck drivers or something else that requires no people or communication skills.

    HD in Phoenix, Arizona

    April 7, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  70. Mari, Salt Lake City, Utah

    I am a big fan of Southwest Airlines, their prices are fair and low! Its a breeze to fly up to Seattle to visit our family.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  71. Tim Brady

    Funny how my flight is canceled (and it takes me another day and a half to get rebooked and fly to my destination) yet my luggage made it onto another flight to my destination (without me) arriving on the original arrive date and time. Whatever happened to no luggage without a passenger? My bag flew solo. So, at least for my luggage it was the flight was on more pleasant.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  72. Patricia

    As seldom as I can afford to fly, i don't have a lot of data to go on, but I do know one thing. Compared to the cross-country road trips with my small children in a station wagon with no AC (it was a frill then, remember?) flying rocks–luggage fees and all.


    April 7, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  73. Johnny

    More pleasant? Sure.. I can't wait to get on the next plane wondering when it will crash into a mountain or not even make it off the runway because of bird feathers caught in the engine.. how about looking out your window of the plane and seeing a North Korean missile coming at ya? Airline travel is not as pleasant as it used to be. I prefer to take my chances in a car, at least if you survive a car accident, you can get a ride to the hospital (unlike airline travel, where all you can do is hope to land in the river and stand on the wing of the plane til someone gets you).

    April 7, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  74. Chris (Katy, TX)

    Looking at the ratings for airlines yesterday I was shocked to know Southwest of all is on top. That to me is a joke but encouraging since I never thought they were anywhere close to providing good services. I think thier prices and the economic downturn made things better for them. As thought United can never finf itself because of the awful costumer service the have. I think the CEO and Management of United need to get classes from Southwest costumer service so as to compete in this ever growing competition.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  75. Ron Kepics

    Hi Jack:

    I fly allot, no it hasen't. What I notice has happened is people are learning how to better deal with the inconveiniences. Like the security lines for example. I don't fly early morning or early evening anymore. The security line are too long. LAX is usually a ZOO at 6 AM. I think the lines are moving a little faster than they were a year ago. It is mainly because the business traveler has become more experienced. I doubt the airlines have bothered to help.

    In any event that is my perspective.

    Ron San Diego

    April 7, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  76. Allen, Hartwell GA

    I haven't flown since last November, so I can't say. But air travel had most definitely gotten much worse over the years, and especially since they even banned smoking on international flights!!!

    April 7, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  77. Matt from Kansas

    Airlines... Yet another titanic dinosaur of a business model trapped in a headlock by unions and energy prices. Until the age of intercontinental maglev trains arrives, we are stuck paying what they demand, settling for what they deliver, and subsidizing/bailing them out at the hint of every economic downturn.

    -Matt from Kansas

    April 7, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  78. Judy, Exeter, Calif,

    Jack I wouldn't know, I haven't flown since the year 2000. We flew to Pennsylvania. The planes were over-crowded and smelly, there was no leg room, and since they screwed up, we had to fly home on separate flights arriving at different times. On top of all that the flights were over 3 hours late each way. I vowed after that I would confine my travel to either a car or the train. My nerves are much better now.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  79. Sophie, New Brunswick, Canada

    Well, as the size of the people grow, the size of the seats shrink. As the price of the plane tickets grow, the quality of the service becomes non-existant.
    That is what is happening with Canada called Air Canada. I don't fly often to the US but when I do, I come to the same depressing conclusion...

    April 7, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  80. Ann from Hampton, New Jersey

    With all the negativities going on in the industry I am glad I stick to the ground.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  81. Steve, Clifton,VA

    Airline travel has taken a first step with the improvement of on time schedules and arrivals but the until the return to the level of customer services that we enjoyed during the 1970's is restored, the industry has a long ways to go...

    Clifton, VA

    April 7, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  82. Diana NJ

    Just went to Chicago... in the smallest seat with the tinest leg room, .. place for carryon is a whole lot smaller... tickets cheap but they pushed up grade every step of the way..

    April 7, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  83. CJ in Atlanta

    Airline travel has gotten as bad as taking the bus. Aside from the criminal searches each passenger is subjected to before boarding, the flight experience of no movies, no food, and even less leg room than ever in coach has turned flying into a chore rather than an experience.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  84. Marcia from Indiana

    Has airline travel improved?? NO!!-I picked up friends Monday night Southwest flt from Denver arriving at 11:35 PM-The flt arrived at 12:40AM but baggage was not unloaded until 1:35AM due to 2 flts using same baggage carrousel even though there were 6 empty ones. Supposedly the flt left the gate on time. Does this sound like an improvement?

    April 7, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  85. Melissa F. from Yorba Linda, CA

    Hey Jack..when has airline travel ever been pleasant? Every time I have traveled I have always run into at least one if not more rude person.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  86. Jasmine in Germany

    One one think that a "normal" standard of service would be maintained, but it's not. The old days are gone, Jack. You don't want to hear my horror stories. I have taken personal losses to the tune of thousands of dollars, due to the unprofessional management of many USA airlines. The lost baggage and claims' departments personnel are often so untrained that I have the silent urge to teach them the alphabet. Their bosses know that most folks don't have the time or energy to follow up on claims (it's too expensive for the claimee, no one can afford being kept "on the line"), they actually save money by providing poor service.
    Charging "money " for use of an-flight toilet is against international human health and welfare standards. "Checking in" to use the lavatory may be useful for security purposes. The "fly with me" days are over.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  87. john j. grimes Watertown, Ma.

    It hasn't changed that much in the first place. What I object to is the absurd practice of searching the possessions of children and the elderly while aloowing many others to simply walk on by.
    There are, however, still two classes of travel.....with & without children.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  88. Bruce

    I refuse to participate in any scheme which supports the illusion of safety provided by a million-person "terror list". It is highly insulting to my intelligence that the southern border is wide open while inconveniencing regular travelers. I opt exercise my freedom and to not travel this way.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  89. Richard

    No way on US airlines Try the overseas airlines if you want to be treated like a human being We should our airline people over there for training Just walk in the overseas terminal and check the FAs They look like they just stepped out of Vouge where ours look like they slept in their clothes and thats just the start

    April 7, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  90. Carl from Citrus Heights, California

    Jack, I flew several times in the 70's and smoking, drinking and generally misbehaving was the rule, I flew earlier this year from Atlanta, where the security was impersonal and rigid. Although the flight was comfortable enough, has airline travel gotten better? Depends on your perspective now doesn't it?

    April 7, 2009 at 5:32 pm |
  91. Doug - Dallas, TX

    Only if you're a sadist who likes torture!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 7, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  92. Dick from Indiana

    I only fly when someone is getting married, someone dies or someone else pays. I haven't flown lately since my kids are hitched, almost everyone I know is already dead and those that aren't don't have any money. But if CNN would like to fly me somewhere I would be happy to tell Jack about my experience.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  93. Nancy, Tennessee

    My son took a trip about four weeks ago from Nashville, TN to Modesto, California. Other than changing planes four times everything went well. From Nashville to Dallas to Sacremento to San Francisco to Modesto, and his two pieces of luggage were on the baggage conveyor as hoped. Now that's a great job.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:54 pm |
  94. Theresa in Atlanta

    Are you nuts!? No other industry in this country can legally take your money, give you a ticket and then turn you away at the door because they sold your seat to someone else.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:56 pm |
  95. Willie From Weston, Florida

    Jack...Yes, airlines are as pleasant as getting fondled by porcupines. The absurd security. The ridiculous waits on lines. The endless bureaucracy and the love affair between stupidity and lack of creativity makes it a portrait of comfort and desirability.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:56 pm |
  96. Larry -- Belton TX

    Who knows. All most of us can afford is a bottle rocket strapped to our backs and a good pair of goggles.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:58 pm |
  97. Sandy in Arkansas

    With the airlines tacking on the charge for checked baggage more and more people are coming on board with carryon luggage. I find it less pleasant waiting in the aisles for everyone to stow their carryons and waiting to disembark while they retreive them, often two or three rows or more behind their seats because the bins above were already filled. Two things most of us don't have enough of these days is time and money. The additional charge takes our money if we check bags and the abundance of carryons waste time. Flip a coin on which you waste.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  98. Simon in Syracuse, NY

    Sure, slightly more pleasant than the electric chair. . I won't mention the name of the airline (Continental), but my last coast-to-coaster was more akin to a round of water boarding. Who's the sadist that designs airline furniture? Will they ever provide a shoe horn to wedge you into your seat, and is it just me, or does the seat back tilt forward when in the full and upright position? And WOW, who on earth doesn't appreciate a seat that tilts a whopping two inches backward for you comfort. Thank God I have chiropractors, physical therapists and Vicoden as a integral part of my travelling experience or else I'd be grumpier than Jack Cafferty after a long flight.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  99. Keith, Ohio

    Jack, I took several cross-country trips by Greyhound bus before I ever flew anywhere. Once you've spent 50 or 55 hours on the 'big silver dog,' it's hard to get too upset about inconveniences in the air. If I can have a late lunch on one side of the country, and dinner on the other side, I'll put up with a little hassle along the way.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  100. Willie From Weston, Florida


    I purchased what I thought was a deal, to only learn that I had to pay for the ability to assign my seat, to get peanuts and something basic to drink, to get a pillow and even to ensure I get attention from the flight attendants. Oh, and I was then asked to pay for the ability to not have someone obnoxious sitting next to me! You gotta love it!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  101. Betty, San Diego, Ca.

    The airlines are just a symptom of a more pervasive problem for people taking a vacation. From the car rental to the taxis driver to the hotel manager to the restaurant manager, they have all designed schemes and tactics that will separate you from your money faster than a hundred dollar slot machine.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:04 pm |
  102. Hans from New Orleans

    well, Jack, I fly a lot and I do not see any improvements. All those new fees if you need to take a bag along, or maybe want a snack. I'm surprised they have not yet started charging for using the bathroom.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:05 pm |
  103. Mike, Panama City, FL

    I suppose it depends on whether I'm flying to or from Buffalo!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  104. Don H. Long Island, NY

    I would love to know how that credit card charge would show up on my bill. Hmm...maybe I wouldn't

    April 7, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  105. Kyle in California

    I just recently flew home from New York to California and it couldn't be worse! Cramming people in those planes like sardines. Planes should go back to the more comfortable travel. No one likes to sit in the middle seat. Coach seats should also be restricted from reclining.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  106. Rodger

    Airline travel has to get better...it can't be any worse!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  107. Peter Shankman

    You're kidding, right? Between the "show us your papers and throw out your Diet Coke" of the TSA to the "Sorry, we can't help you" stance of virtually every airline, flying has kind of turned into going for a proctologist exam – just with less space, and much less comfort.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  108. Matt


    With a nod to my fellow "Battlestar Galactica" fans,
    I'd rather take AMFRAK!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  109. Lee in Minnesota

    Yes, I believe so. Unfortunately, the lost baggage is the same as the last Administrating losing everything that was important and claiming ignorance. Fly the friendly sky's of Obama as I plan to.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  110. Tom

    Absolutely NOT. Northwest bumped my girlfriend off a flight to visit me three states away last Friday because we failed to pick her seat when the flight was booked.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  111. Eddie

    NO! That would cost extra. With fees for checked bags and other surcharges...Pleasantries are extra like peanuts,extra pillows and the use of the facilities. But if you fly 1st class, Plesantries are included...Come fly the friendly skies...(sorry friendly skies is extra).

    April 7, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  112. Jan

    My husband and I flew Southwest last month from St.Louis-Orlando. $89 flight,free soda-snack and jokes from steward..can't beat it! Hey I can say this and I don't even work for the company! Keep it up Southwest!!!!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  113. Nikki, NJ

    No it has not and soon they will charge us to stand in line to be frisked by airport security. I can see it not a Free 'Feel' Up surcharge.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  114. Steve - CA

    not no but HELL no....
    lost luggage isn't even the tip of this iceberg,....
    the state of air travel is only a microcosim of the loss of true "customer service"....
    of which today it is far and few between....when found at all

    April 7, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  115. Joe Gimbel

    Ryn Air should give you a discount for using the bathroom, since you are reducing the weight of the flight.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  116. Deb Bland

    Are you kidding? Try having to wait 2.5 hours for the crew to show up, a no-show pilot, parking on the tarmac until a gate is available because their pilot didn't show up – I need Prozac just to get through a day of airline travel!!!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  117. Ken

    I don't know because I still can't afford to fly!!!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  118. Dann

    Pay for airplane bathroom access? We will start to see graffitti scrawled on the walls...

    "Here I sit broken- hearted,
    Swiped my card and only farted."


    April 7, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  119. SF Retired

    Charging for bathrooms? He's full of crap !

    I've been dissatisfied since they threw in the baggage fees during the high fuel prices and then kept them after fuel cut itself in half. They've watered down my frequent flyer points. And, couldn't they please quit squeezing the seats for us people who are normal size.

    No, Jack. They just keep making things worse. I suppose we'll be seeing rust on the wings next.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  120. Erwin Stoessel

    Airline travel has become a lot more pleasant within the past year.There is a question to which I would dearly love to have answered.Given the large number of diabetics who travel by air what precations are being taken to protect their feet when they have to remove their shoes and should they get stuck by some foreign object when those shoes are removed,who is liable?

    April 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  121. Owen

    Dear Jack,
    Im 21 years old and recenty traveled to Australia, I flew on both United Airlines and Quantas (Australias Airline) needless to say with incredibly unfriendly service and ridiculous treatment on the 15 hour flight I will be taking International Airlines from now on. British Airways and the like have never disappointed me.

    Gettysburg, PA

    April 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  122. Norman Council

    No. Any perceived improvement is simply a reflection of the relief of passengers that it hasn't gotten any worse. Flying in America is akin to living in Bulgaria: you learn to accept that substandard is the best you are going to get

    April 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  123. Michael

    Before I pay to use a toilet in-flight I will pee in a bottle and leave it in the seat pocket. At least I will have something to smile about as I leave the plane.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  124. Leonard Pitts

    Jack, Come on Man, You fly right?
    It's all about the bottom line (dollar)
    I would not want to be one of the folks that clean up the planes

    April 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  125. Harvey Harris`

    Absolutely, it has become more enjoyable. Where can you get a half cup of a drink and seven pretzels for the price of an airline ticket. Come on Jack get with the freindly skies of air travel. Don't you just love being taken advantage of? Harris

    April 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  126. Bill Vancil, Madison, WI

    If an airline thinks someone is dumb enough to put up with a policy of "pay as you go" they should label the doors to the restooms "moron" and "idiot". Maybe put a sign like that on their own office door as well.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  127. Mike


    As an airline pilot I can assure you airline travel is pathetic. I watch passengers on a daily basis being treated without respect or dignity as if no one has explained to the airline that these are paying customers. I can also assure you that all the shortcomings of the airlines, and there are many, can be attributed to management teams that couldn't run a profitable lemonade stand if they were getting free lemons, let alone an airline.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  128. Roy Punnoose

    Dear Jack,

    Paying to use the toilets will result in a lot of "dirty seats." I hope the airlines realize this before it's too late.


    Ashburn, Virginia

    April 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  129. bill

    Face it the airlines are becoming more unplesant what can we do about it nothing. The fact is we can't do that much to feel safe and pleseant at the same time.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  130. Brian Currie

    More pleasant? Jack, in my humble opinion, it's become a chore. I'm a nurse anesthetist and very aware of the importance of providing excellent care as well being 'service driven'. Swipe a credit card to use the lavatory?...not going to happen.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  131. Cliff Stewart, Cape Coral, FL

    They want a credit card? How about a curtain and I'll bring my own slop jar!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  132. Sharon Bradley

    Oh my God. I was searching for cheap flights as you began talking about this topic. My husband will be returning from Iraq soon and I really want to meet him in Germany to greet him when he gets back. Incidentally, I came home to America during the deployment, and in my search for inexpensive air line tickets, I find I cannot afford them. Now I may not be able to greet him when he returns.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  133. Norm from Grand Forks, ND

    I'd love to comment on the quality of air travel, but since the economic downturn, I have been out of work and can't afford to fly. Still waiting for a bailout.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  134. Jacob, Riverside, CA

    After September 11, airline travel has seemingly restarted peoples emotions. People are more scared of it now than when the airplane was a new thing and people wondered if it would work. Now with airlines charging for bags and restroom trips, it is now becoming equivalent to a necessity that we can't avoid. If they would just put that money into the airline ticket instead of on the airplane, where it would be unpredictable what the amount would become, people will be less upset and be more willing to fly again. But for now, it is an apparent vision of "being pleasant"

    April 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  135. Mark from Cranberry Twp, PA

    As long as the guy in front of me insists on leaning his seat all the way back, travel will continue to be miserable.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  136. Joel from Duluth MN

    Being a frequent flier to europe and parts of asia I have realized that US based airlines are still less hospitable to travelers in flight. Recently I flew northwest airlines to London and flew an international carrier from London to Singapore and I was amazed at the difference in service in flight. Better food, newer aircraft, and generally a much more pleasant trip.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  137. Sylvain from Canada

    I love flying!.. It's the three hours to get there that's a pain in the butt! Eternal lines, cranky clerks, overzealous security guards and the humiliating body search, that's unpleasant!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  138. Lauren


    When I first flew in Europe and had to pay for any checked bag 2 years ago I thought that was bad, but now that the US has implemented the same thing along with having to pay for a drink, a snack, and if we have to use the toilet you can guarantee I won't make effort to even fly anymore! I already HATE to fly and barely do so unless absolutely necessary. Besides the fact that I never get adequate or even slightly decent customer service when calling or checking in at the airport, I couldn't be more disappointed with the direction airlines have gone over the last few years and I'm only 23 years old. I can only imagine what my father thinks of the airlines who have seen them back in their good 'ole days.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  139. Terry from Peoria, Illinois

    NO!!!! What in the world would be pleasant about flying now? You pay high prices, go through endless hassles and get treated like they're doing you a favor by flying.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  140. Sly, Alpena, Mi

    Jack, I don't care if the Airlines are getting more pleasant or not. I would rather drive to where i have to go. If God wanted me to fly, he would have gave me Wings, but he didn't.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  141. Dennis

    No. Not enough money to travel by plane.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  142. bob from atlanta

    Forget fees and snacks or lack there of..is it just me or does every flight experience turbulance bad enough to make people white knuckle it lately?... some scream. I fly often, and almost every time we are bumped around like rag dolls.....

    April 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  143. Kevin

    I haven't noticed air travel getting any more comfortable. If anything, the perennial problem of people trying to bring 2 months worth of clothing in their carry-ons has gotten worse since the airlines started charging for checked luggage. I've only seen one airline doing due diligence on checking the size of carry0ns luggage. Outside of that, those of us who are following the rules usually have to pay the price of having all the overheads hogged by the folks trying to save $15.

    On the subject of the pay-in-flight-toilets, while this may seem ridiculous to you and I, remember that pay toilets are much more common in Europe than in the US and probably doesn't seem as out of line.

    Oak Park, IL

    April 7, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  144. David

    As a frequent traveler, the most unpleasant part of my travel is the carelessness dispalyed by the TSA with my luggage. in the course of one year of travel, I had two pieces of luggage with damaged zipper and one piece torn up by the sharp object. When I attempt to file a complaint I get nothing but dead ends. I wonder how long or how many frustrated passengers in the same boat as mine will it take before the TSA behavior is put in its place. Keeping the nation safe while having respect for other people's property should not be all that challenging.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  145. Mark from Cranberry Twp, PA

    It much more pleasant now than it will be if cell phones are permitted on planes.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  146. Andrew

    I wouldnt know because I haven't been able to find a job to afford a flight since I graduated college last year.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  147. William from Florida

    I flew during this past Christmas holiday from Orlando to Newark, Newark to Sacramento and Sacramento to Orlando. The only problem we had was that we arrived early at Newark and had to sit waiting for 35 minutes for a gate to open up. So much for arriving early. All the rest of the trip went fine w/ no delays. It's better because there's less planes since all the USA airlines are parking planes in the boneyards or Arizona, New Mexico and California

    April 7, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  148. Richard Carmel

    It's obvious to the most casual observer that you have not been on a commercial flight lately, otherwise you would not have asked that question

    April 7, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  149. Harish

    Jack –
    I don't know if flying has become less pleasant or not...BUT I think that airlines are becoming more lax with safely. While flying from Detroit – Denver, the passenger in front of me couldn't keep his seat upright while taking off. So, he kept leaning back on take-off and the stewardess kept yelling at him. It wasn't the passengers fault!

    AND GET THIS, while coming back, while flying back from Denver – Detroit, I got to my seat and found that it had NO upright, yes!, the back of the seat was missing! Hmm...I laughed uncontrollably but I think that 10-years ago, these planes would have been grounded.
    Now, it seems like airlines are skirting around these issues to save the much needed cash. By the way, I luckily got another seat in the exit row.

    Rochester Hills, MI

    April 7, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  150. Peter Melle

    Hi Jack,

    More Unpleasant! I am tired of people worried about saving a few dollars by not checking their luggage. This causes the time to load and unload planes increase uncomfortably. I suggest the airlines charge a small fee to check your luggage and a LARGE FEE to carry your luggage on the plane. I fly just about every week and I see tensions increase over this issue on most flights.

    Keep the toilets Free!

    Pete from Collegeville, PA.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  151. Dan, Holly Springs, NC.

    Jack I just got done with two flights today, both were boarded late and both arrived at the airport much later then expected. Airlines are just getting worse and worse.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  152. Bill Porter

    Yes, it is now somewhat more pleasent than a ride on an Auschwitz death train.
    I remember when air travel was a romatic and luxurious experience and the beautiful people were reffered to as the "Jet Set". Man, those days are gone.
    Chalk up another fabulous success for the republican free market theorists, and a big thanks to President Regan for more failed deregulation. I'd gladly pay $50 bucks a ticket more to be treated like a human being...
    Bill Porter in New York

    April 7, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  153. LeslieB

    Hell, no! I used to enjoy flying, but not anymore. Being squished in full flights in seats that continue to shrink with leg room that continues to shrink is NOT fun.

    I can't think of any reason I'll need/want to fly commercial ever again. I'd much rather drive and enjoy the scenery, or sail and enjoy the leisure.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  154. Noel

    As a 60,000 mile-a-year or more frequent flier, I find it really hard to use "pleasant" and "commercial air travel" in positively worded sentence. My approach is to assume I'm going to be delayed, lied to, mistreated, re-routed, stranded, have my bags sent to Mozambique, and have most of the trip go wrong. This way I'm never disappointed, find it hard to get stressed out, and am occasionally pleasantly surprised.

    New Hampshire

    April 7, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  155. Bernadette Loesch

    Dear Jack, the only thing 'pleasant' about flying is the fact that airlines are able to get us from point A to point B in a relatively short amount of time. With that said I would have to admit that the so called amenities from years past which were free are gone. American airlines remind me of the train travel of the past century with all of the troubles to boot.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  156. Dan Beasley

    I took a flight to Bangkok from Vancouver and Jack, it was like some kind of wierd torture. The seat was like a childs car seat but without an attentive mother.The flight was late leaving and well, I could go on and on. Coffee, tea, or water-boarding? After only 4 hrs into 14 hr flight, I was ready to admit to kindnapping the Limburg baby. Be well. Dan Beasley.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  157. Theresa Mary

    It's always more pleasant when I'm working the flight ;-).....even though this merger is still in the early stages. Honestly, though, the fact that I truly enjoy my job after 24 years is the real reason customers think I'm a bit of alright . Peanuts, anyone ?

    April 7, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  158. Tim


    I've flown more than 25,000 miles in total since 2005. I've never really had a bad experience that was a direct result of the airline. I've had weather, maintenance and security delays, but these things happen no matter what airline you are using.

    I think, in general, travel is a highly emotional activity where people get upset over small issues. People are in a hurry to get where they're going... and since they can't blame God for the weather, mother nature for maintenance issues or the government for security delays, it's much easier to closely scrutinize or blame an air carrier to make one's self feel better.

    Has there ever REALLY been a problem with airlines and air travel? Or have Americans always just assigned unrealistic standards to a business where comfort and customer service are both secondary to getting people from Point A to Point B in the timeliest fashion possible?

    April 7, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  159. Chuck

    I 'd rather sail on a slow boat to Africa to go on safari with Dick Cheney
    than ever board another airplane. It safer and picking birdshot out of
    my face would be less painful.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  160. Dami Odetola

    I do not know what poll you are looking at but i can tell you authoritatively that the airline industry in America is a joke. A capital JOKE. Delta airlines made me miss my flight to Qatar on saturday and i slept on the floor at JFK for two days. Trying to get back to DC after missing my flight to Seychelles en route Qatar, i booked another flight on the worst airline DELTA to leave JFK on Monday the 6th but guess what ..... we were delayed for another 6 hours. Jack, it is a pity that nobody cares about the passengers, i missed a vacation worth 6,000 in Seychelles and Delta told me that i could take a hike.
    Dami Odetola
    Washington DC

    April 7, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  161. Gino

    If airlines charge for washroom charge, here is a short joke:

    A guy has to go to the bathroom, none around. Goes to a pharmacy and asks " Do you have fresh tomatoes?:

    The pharmacist says: "My friend this is a pharmacy, we dont sell tomatoes..!"

    The guy says: "You deserve my crap... I will crap right in the middle of your pharmacy..." and he does...!

    Can you blame the guy...? He had to relieve himself.

    Do airlines have a penalty for passengers who do the same...?


    April 7, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  162. John

    Ryanair is one of the lowest cost airlines in Europe with most ticket prices costing only the tax to fly. For instance, you can fly from Barcelona, Spain to London, England for a fare of .01 Euros, and 18 Euros in tax (approx. $25 US Dollars). This is for a 1.5 hour flight. I think the CEO of Ryanair should consider raising fares, rather than making some "cash poor" passengers very nervous.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  163. Melissa, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

    Let's see...there's the extra fees/a la carte pricinig, the flight delays, being stuck on the plane for the long delays, uncomfortable (small) seats, super-sized fellow travelers, lack of food and poor customer service....what's not to like?

    April 7, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  164. Karl from SF, CA

    Well, if I wear a Depends, can I just stay in my seat?

    April 7, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  165. faye583

    Well.. if flying at 2:00 am with the temp. set at 80 so it would put the people to sleep, or sitting on the plane at the dock for 3 hours before they figure out they can't get the part to fix the plane and then there's no flights until late that night, or my favorite.. we are going down to land and the landing gear is down and we make a fast pull up and everyone is freaking out... hey at least we did land safe. The same flight crew was on the next connector I was on and they were really free with the booze and I needed it but what I really needed was a SMOKE!!! I think if I'm about to die on a flight I'm going to get that last cig. in!!

    On a good note... Kudos to the Delta crew in Seattle. I arrived as a stand by and they worked really hard to get me on another flight, by TSA, and a fast ride to the plane! Great Job GUYS!!!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  166. Ben Ayers

    The airlines treat passengers as self-loading cargo and we now pay them $15 to lose our luggage. On a recent short flight a passenger requested a bag of peanuts. The indignant stewardess responded, "what do you think this is? –a peanut flight!." Well, it's nuts. The prices are high and the service is low.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  167. Al Hosein

    Hi Jack, I can understand that Ryan Air charging for toilet use on flights. Pay toilets is an Irish thing. I once heard an argument about who invented the limbo (dance). A Trinidadian said it was Trinidad. A Scotsman said it was Scotland. The Trini asked how so? The Scots said that a Scotsman went on a visit to Ireland and he did not want to pay to use the public toilet so he limbo'ed under the door to get in. So it could be a lot of fun flying on Ryan Air.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  168. Nathan

    Currently, its been evident that costs for about anything has soared beyond limit. In the process, with most airplanes attempting to pay down debt by placing costs on food & drinks. Concluding, an eroding economy has decreased the quality known on airplanes- especially the elite.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  169. Christiaan Janssen from 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

    Carry-on luggage.
    Million different policies for hand luggage and services
    Booking your on line ticket and watching for side selling of insurances, seats etc.
    Punishment for not checking in on line, although not offering these services before your first trip.
    Charges for seat selection, early boarding, fast track.

    NO, flying has not improved. The two advantages of the budget airlines in Europe are Price and they usually fly on time, or at least better compared to the traditional airlines.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  170. Sam from New York


    Sure the airlines want to charge for people to go to the bathroom with a credit card, next thing you know, they will start putting stuartist at the door with a can in their hands instead of telling people good bye asking for spare change.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  171. Brian Worth

    Retired airline pilot. Long drive to airport, line up for check in, line up for security, take off shoes, take off your belt, line up to board, sit up, shut up, belt up, keep your feet off the chairs, eat this, line up for washroom, line up to de-plane, line up for baggage, long drive to accomodations. So, what's to like?
    The only advantage over trains and driving is the time.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  172. hollace

    They airlines better hope they don't piss people off. It not like they can sell a wet seat to the next set of passengers getting on the plane.

    The word pleasant to describe travel of any form left about the same time as the expression s JET PLANE and JET SETTER

    April 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  173. Richard in Long Island

    It's obvious that you have not been on a commercial flight lately otherwise you would not have asked that question

    April 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  174. KRistin Briggs

    Dear Jack,

    I HATE to fly. Fortunately I haven't been forced onto an airplane in five years, so, for me, the service is just great! Hope I can keep it up.


    April 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  175. Rod Jensen

    Heavens no! The industry's pricing policies are already the most illogical in business and these anti-customer charges are just plain stupid. Southwest is now the only full-service airline left! If we could ever get high-speed rail deployed in the US it would decimate air travel on competitive routes.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  176. David

    As an airline pilot for 22 yrs, I have seen the industry degrade in ways that are too numerous to count. The major problem is that a trans-con airline ticket face value (not adjusted for inflation) is cheaper today than it was in 1971. That lost revenue has to have been made up is some fashion, bag fees, pay toilets you name it. The people who really have taken the brunt of the affects of deregulation have been the employees. An airline Captain makes about only 40% of what he did 20 years ago. You think the industry is still attracting Sullys to the profession? Think again. A top of scale NY city bus driver makes more than the average airline pilot. The only way to improve service is to dramatically raise fares, cut capacity and attract a better level of employee and clientele.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  177. gerald

    We have made it more pleasant by traveling light. Carryon bags, washable clothes, and planning for frequent use of laundries are now the order of the day when we fly. The reason for that? Baggage nearly destroyed from placement in cargo, complaints about same falling on deaf ears, and the harrowing experiences of going through security add up to modifying strategy to make a flight as pleasant as possible under these present difficult times.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  178. Louise in Alabama

    I met Mike Wallace once at an airport. He was not a happy camper. I think he would have taken an RV if one had been available. Not much has changed. I miss Route 66. Now that would be great money spent on infrastructure. Gas Stations. Restaurants. Clean bathrooms. Souvenirs. Billboards. Can't get all that great stuff on an overpriced airplane.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  179. ME Hunt

    Are you kidding me? On our last trip the flight was delayed for hours and no one ever gave an explanation nor did they even think to offer any kind of apology for the delay. Not only is flight travel worse, common courtesy is negligible.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  180. Linda

    I am a very frequent flyer because of my job. The airlines should not be so quick to pat them selves on the back. I fly many different airlines. The experience has not gotten better due to THEIR efforts to make it a better customer experience. NO ONE CAN AFFORD TO FLY!

    Pleasent?! Quite the contrary. I find it painful that I have to fly and be subject to all of the new "expenses" related to travel. NOTHING is included anymore! The high cost of air travel doesn't even include a beverage on most airlines. And now they want you to "pay extra" to go through the "quick security line". If you don't you're penalized by having to wait, because THEY can't keep up with the traffic.

    And many Flight Attendents these days don't reach out to help customers that are in-frequent travelers. They load you up like cattle and depend on the passengers to lend a helping hand to each other. What a shame. They've taken all of the "pleasentness" out of the flight.

    Empty Pockets in Chicago 😉

    April 7, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  181. Shanae C. Dowell

    Jack, Here is the answer to your question NO! US Airways is the worst, they gave my daughter and I seats away when we flew back from Washington and they had checked us in 1 hour before our flight. We ended up staying in the airport sleeping on hard chairs all night. No accomidations were made, they even sent my luggage to New York and brought it to our home the next afternoon. A warning to the wise never fly US Airways stay away from the staff they are all very rude people. This flight was after we came back to see our President Obama inguaration on Jan.23rd. Buyers be ware of USAirways.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  182. Michael Roepke - Dallas

    Once upon a time, other airlines made fun of Texas where we had SW Airlines flying us around the state. They said it was like being transported via cattle car but it worked for us.
    Airline travel will become a more pleasant experience when these same airlines gear up to the quality of service they once ridiculed.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  183. Anne Monrad

    Hi Jack,
    My English grandmother, whenever needing to go to the restroom, would call it "Spending a penny". I myself haven't seen a pay toilet since the late 70's. I'll be damned if I'd travel on a flight that holds me financially hostage to take a 'necessarium' break! If it's not shinola.. it must be ....
    North Carolina

    April 7, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  184. Christiaan Janssen from 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

    Carry on luggage.
    Different policies for hand-luggage and services offered.
    Charges for seat selection, fast track, early boarding.
    On line active selling of meals, insurances etc during booking your flight.
    Requiring on line checking in or pay for it (do I need to carry my Apple and printer during trips?)
    I always need to walk to or from the last gate in most airports, but don't see airplanes at the other gates.

    Flying more pleasant? Not really.
    The only advantage of the budget airlines is that they are cheaper and usually fly on time.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  185. Edgar

    NO, I travel a few times a year and what I found most distressing is the complete disregard of customers when it comes to their "New Fees". I had to change a flight recently and I was told I had to pay the $100.00 fee at Jetblue and they did not care if I objected to it because everyone is doing it. Guess what, SouthWest is not doing it so I'm using them from now on!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  186. Landy, Toronto, CA


    If you've sat beside someone sleeping on your shoulder and an obnoxious kid behind you, you wouldn't ask this question. Maybe the most pleasant moment of the trip is when they say "10 minutes until landing!" Otherwise, just pray you get a window seat, because you've got a long trip to go.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  187. Rick

    MIchael O' Leary CEO of Ryan Air was only joking about paying for toilets, and admitted as much when this story came out! Should have been crossed checked info.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  188. Daniel Homestead, Florida

    I'll let you know Jack when I fly with my family this June to Tennessee.

    For me, it'll be the first time I've flown in 10 years (before9/11) so I'll be interested in experiencing the security measures I'll go through to board the plane that I've heard so much about. OI still got a good deal on the flight cause I booked early, but I couldn't believe all the fees that are now charged for baggage, seats. etc. One surprise for me is
    I have to take my six-year old daughter's birth certificate since she's too young to have a photo ID that's required by the airlines.

    By the way Jack, I told my daughter about the CEO of Ryanair wanting to charge people to go the bathroom on his airline. My daughter replied: " Daddy, we're not gonna go on that airline are we? What if I get diarreah?!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  189. Robert Wood

    The airline issues like maintenance which are n ot visible concern me far more than charging for baggage, toilets, etc. Going slack on maintenance (something we would not know) could cost us our lives.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  190. Kingsley

    Hi Jack ,am 26 and has traveled with flight only 3 times ,and am the only one in my family to have traveled by air,so how will i know if the have improved or not.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  191. David

    Jack pick up yesterday's copy of the Washington Times and there you will find your answer. Steve Beirfeldt was illegally detained by the TSA for carrying cash in a carry-on! He was verbally harassed and was threatened to be turned over to the DEA and FBI, all the while refusing to inform him of his legal rights or explain how cash and checks threatened airplane or airport security. Luckily, Steve recorded his interrogation on his cellphone and it is now viral. These TSA officers should be fired!!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  192. Susan - Plano, TX

    No, not with the small seat, all extra charges, small salty snack, and stiff rigid faces that give orders....airline industry services remind me of communistrist countries' stern faces...

    I am happy that I can take care of my international business meetings via SKYPE conference call. I try to limit my travel as much as possible.

    Plano, TX

    April 7, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  193. Christine, Thousand Oaks Ca

    Luckily I have built up quite a cache of airline miles over the years. I use them for business and first class travel to Europe. Those flights are pleasant, with the international carriers being far better all the way around than the domestic carriers. But, when I fly coach domestically it is not pleasant. The carry on bag situation is obnoxious, obese people taking half of my seat is intolerable and the nickel-dime philosophy of most domestic carriers is disgusting. I've been treated better at the DMV!

    April 7, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  194. Louis Manus

    Maybe one way to improve airline service, which by the way is incredibly badl, is to threaten the airlines with loss of their government subsidies which we taxpayers pay. The last time I had really quality airline service was in the 1950's when airline prices were relatively high and they had to compete for business.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  195. leefigo

    Of course not jack the last time i flew was about three years ago and the lady at the terminal checkpoint asked me to take my shoes and belt off. considering the fact that i am pretty good looking fella i thought she was just trying to check me out in my underwear but they are as strict and overly cautious and it makes one not want to fly.

    chicago, il

    April 7, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  196. Allen, Hartwell GA

    NO! Air travel has been pure misery since they manned smoking on all flights. If I had my drathers I'd rather not go anywhere if I have to fly.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  197. andy

    On the same day these stats were released I received notification from NWA that my June 6th nonstop flight from Indianapolis to LAX had been canceled, they called it a schedule change. Without my input they placed me on a later flight with a stop in Utah where I was to spend two hours twiddling my thumbs. After research I found NO nonstop flights to LAX, I had to settle on a flight with a 40 minute stop in Minneapolis. Now watch my first flight be delayed for an hour so I miss that connection.
    Last June I flew NWA from Indianapolis to LAX, after first trying to board us on the wrong flight (An alert passenger noticed the tail number was different than her ticket stated) we had to exit the wrong jet, wait on the right jet to make the ramp, then sat on the runway in a pouring rain for an hour.
    Returning we flew through the most bumpiest thunderstorm I've ever flown through, had two aborted landings, then after finally getting on the ground sat on the jet for thirty minutes because the one in front of us had broken down and had to be towed. After debarkation we had to wait 90 minutes for our luggage because workers can't work on the ramp when its lightening.
    I gave NWA fair marks last year ONLY because the staff was friendly and understanding to all of us who were angry that the pilot waited until we were on the ground before informing us why he had aborted landings and apologized for not warning us earlier that the weather would be so turbulent.
    This year NWA will get low markings from me because their canceled nonstop flights forced me to change rental car and hotel reservations

    April 7, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  198. Adrien Lopez

    International travel continues to be a pleasant experience with a lot more focus on customer service, while national travel in the United States has become much more unpleasant as they focus only on "your safety" withoout any of the extra perks... hmmm.

    April 7, 2009 at 6:43 pm |