Air travel isn’t as fun as it used to be

Oh, I know. I am just complaining. I was in Miami this week at a recruiting conference. I think that I mentioned that I am not big fan of flying (specifically: take-offs and turbulence) and given the fact that there were no direct flights to be found, I knew this was not going to be one of my favorite flying excursions.

I can get over the fact that I had to toss my favorite lip gloss because I forgot to put it in my checked luggage. In response to the desk agent’s question of whether I’d taken all liquid and gel products and put them in my checked bag, I replied that there was nothing in my carry on that makes me pretty. No lotion, no lip gloss (hey, I’m a girly girl! What can I say). Only I missed one residing on the bottom of my bag. OK, that’s not a big deal. Seventeen dollars later and I’ve replaced it.

The part that was bad though was the relative lack of beverages on the flights. I’m someone who always has a water or diet soda at hand. I’m perpetually thirsty. I’m thirstier just thinking about being thirsty. I have about 5 different kinds of water (some with bubbles, some without) in my home. Add to that the fact that I struggled with season allergies last week which got significantly worse when I got to Florida. On the flight back, I chugged 2 bottles of water at the gate (which made waiting for the captain to turn off the fasten seatbelt sign an interesting exercise in control, if you know what I mean) along with a Benadryl. Yet those measly little cups of water or soda weren’t even close to enough to helping. All I could think about was water, iced tea, slurpees, ice cubes, Popsicles, diet coke, rain gutter run-off.  I would have paid $50 for one of those big liter bottles of water. Note to airline companies…there’s a money-maker for you. Yeah, and also, if you could stock some Estee Lauder Lip gloss in Berry, that would be great.  I could actually tell that my tongue was swelling due to dehydration (I’m not joking…it’s the allergies…I just drank 1 and a half 17 oz bottles of water since I started typing this….I’m turning into a raisin…albeit one with plenty of lip gloss now).

I get the security measures and of course, safety is the utmost concern (and I partially blame myself for the lip gloss thing). But I think that it’s time that the airlines start to figure out how to make traveling more comfortable, given the restrictions. I’m not suggesting features that add great cost, but give people the option of buying water on-board. By the way, I think there’s a huge opportunity here for hotels to differentiate themselves by allowing you to ship some of your personal items to them overnight (oh, you know, things like, say lip gloss…and other toiletries) . I also think that some of the consumer goods/ health and beauty companies have an opportunity to allow people to buy small sizes of things at their destination…maybe even pre-order them for pick up. Maybe even in a shop outside the terminals at the airport or delivered to your hotel at an enormous charge. It’s OK, I’ll pay.

I think that now that air travel is becoming less pleasant, someone can make money by providing some simple conveniences that don’t breach security. Because there are people like me that would pay the extra price of maintaining a positive attitude if they could just buy a way-over priced bottle of tap water or fore go checking their luggage for a two day trip that requires 12 travel hours each way. I’m just saying.

Comments (19)

  1. tod hilton says:

    Heather just deleted my original comment [argh] and emailed me asking if I would repost it, so let’s see if I can remember all of it or at least the jist of it…

    They [the authorities] are going way overboard…again. I flew shortly after 9/11 and had to throw away the best damn pair of tweezers I’ve ever owned. They were solid construction and had a nice sharp point that let you really get those teeny-tiny things (splinters, etc.). Have you bought tweezers in the past 5 years? They suck…they’re blunt-tipped and I can never seem to get at the stuff I need to with them. Yes, I’m still irritated by their rash, extreme reaction. It’s probably stupid that I’m holding a grudge, but that’s life. 😉

    The powers that be [whomever is responsible for these safety regulations] should really hire some business analysts to provide statistics about the risks associated with their banned items. I mean really, what are the chances that lip balm will be used to blow up an airplane? I certainly don’t know, but some good analysis could go a long way in preventing the risks that are most likely to happen while pointing out the ones that are rare. Then the airline industry can minimize everyone’s risk while maintaining decent service. Meanwhile we simply keep going from one extreme to the next…or even further to one side than we were before.

    I’m with you on the water too…I always have a bottle in my carron-on. Most of the time it’s water, other times it might be rum. 🙂

    And you really spent $17 on lip balm…wtf? Oh, by the way…please don’t delete this one. 😉

  2. IvanA says:

    And that was only to Florida, just think about the 17 hour flight from Europe to Seattle in economy class that some of us would have to endure 🙁 No extra water either, they say it’s cost savings— So I’ll just pay $200 more next time and fly on Lufthansa.

    I don’t know anything about chemicals, but I do feel much safer now that there are no liquids on board (including your lip balm). Suppossedly the London plane bombers planned to use normal household chemicals. So in my opinion, I am happy they have been banned.

    Talking about airplane stories. There was this thing that happenned to me about 10 years ago flying out off Shanghai (on Lufthansa :-). The plane landed about an hour late in Shanghai, which was frustrating enough as I had a connecting flight from Frankfurt that I was going to miss. Than we had to wait for one more hour  for some reason. The only thing I noticed was that the pilot kept walking under the plane and looking at it. We finally got on the plane and as it was on the runway just about to take off the pilot starts his speach about why he was late " I apologize on behalf of Lufthansa, due to technical difficulties we were delayed. As we take off you will notice a strange turbulence which is not normal for airplanes this size. I THINK it’s safe." You can imagine how people started looking when the pilot said "I think" and the plane was about to get off the ground 🙂

  3. J.J. says:

    Unfortunately I had to fly every week recently and have a lot of thoughts to share too. Let me start from the on-the-air then to off-the air. Almost every woman I know carrries lotion or hand cream and other nourishing products (Note: I did not use the word cosmetic) in their purse. The list will expand to cleansing cream, toothpaste, wet facial masque and eyedrop etc for international flights. I have a girlfriend who recently flew across Pacific and her biggest complaint was that they took her masque and eyedrop and left her high and dry on the 16-hour flight. As for myself, without my hand cream, I don’t even want to use the airplane restroom since I’d wash my hands so harshly after. Water or any liquid is another issue. I mostly have to ask for "no ice" so I could get more drink at one serve in stead of waiting for half an hour to get another one. Of course, during that half hour, I get thirsty by thinking about it 🙂

    But still what bothers me most is the off-the-air part. Because toothpaste and hair product etc. now have to be checked in, that means everyone will at least check in one bag, which takes a lot of time at departure and landing. And if you have connecting flights, the chances are your lugguage somtimes doesn’t make it. Which could mean that you arrive at a business meeting or reception without any clothes…It has not happened to me yet (knock the wood)

    Like Heather, I thought about all the commerce opportunities on board. The buisness she suggested will probably proliferate if this situation lasts. When UK for a period of time banned all carry-ons: only wallet and eye-glasses are allowed, I also thought about the loss of one usage model of mobile products including iPods, PDAs, playstations and mini DVDs. Of course, thought about more about the poor business travelers without their laptop and poor parents traveling with young children – what could they do to keep the kids entertained and nourished. I heard a story at the airport that some mother with a baby was asked to taste the milk from her bottle in front of the security to get it pass.

    I don’t know what could’ve been done differently. But I do get scared of flying these days. Last week, when the air pressure caused turbulence, I started to pray and the woman behind me screamed… I guess it is easy to implement an accross-the-board policy rather than based on business intelligence. Researching and profiling or statistical models to predict cost money, resource and time. So for safety, I surrender to any pre-cautious or even extreme measures – as if I had a choice.

  4. patblue says:

    This is why I am happy I am not a ‘girly girl’.  Though an interesting tought that we came up with was bottles of contact solution/eye drops.  When I flew w/ contacts I always needed my contact kit.  Since lasic I always need eye drops.  I remember flying right after 9/11 (on 9/15) way back when, and they made us ‘drink’ our liquid at the security line, and others made us toss our Starbucks out.  Then that process went away.  I feel your pain with the liquid deparment en route. On a recent flight I asked the attendant to please just wait with the water jug as I was dehydrated.  She was not very undertanding, but I swigged 4 cups and then asked her for a 5th with ice in it.  She looked on annoyed, but there was really nothing I could do, I needed the liquid!  There is a lot of money to be made by bottled water while under way, I wonder how long it will take Air America to figure that one out, and more so, how pricey that bottle of liquid gold will be.

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    I don’t even care how much they charge. It’s crazy. I was thinking of ordering 5 scotch and waters and asking them to hold the scotch. They need to get over being annoyed. It’s not like someone is going to try to get their money’s worth by chugging water. It’s freaking water!

    I think I’ll just start eating a bunch of salt before I fly so I can puff up even more and at least retain some of the water. Yeah, I’ll wear flip-flops on the plane because my feet won’t fit into my shoes. You can’t win.

  6. Heather,

    I wonder what happens to all the Duty Free stores? Can you still purchase Duty Free items at airports? Are their perfumes, spirits, etc. well screened?

    If so, couldn’t someone do something like that. I place where you can buy prescreened food/water/snacks and get them on the airplane. I think it’s crazy to have to pay for these things after paying for high fares. However, I can’t see myself or my wife traveling with our 3 year old and try/ing to explain that we couldn’t bring water on board for that 6 hour flight to NYC.

    When 9/11 happened, there was a lot of talk about leading our lives normally.  To me being able to bring my own water on an airplane seems very normal.

    I believe all travelers would be willing to pay a $2-3 dollar extra per flight to help TSA or whoever needs the money to buy the x-ray machines they need to screen for anything needed. Just as long as we can bring our own water, cookies, eye drops, etc…

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    Ben, I bet they either check it onto the plane directly or they don’t sell liquids now. When I bought a bottle of water at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, the gal at the little store told me that it was a regulation that you had to leave the cap in the store. Didn’t have that issue in Seattle. I did see someone saying (or maybe speculating) about the Body Shop stores in airports having to close down.

    Regarding the flgith to NYC, that’s exactly what you would have to deal with. They do drink service a couple times on flights but it’s still those little cups. You can bring cookies though. But no jello.

    I just hate the idea that me asking them for extra water is perceived as trying to get away with something. Well, at the very least, I’ll be switching from Benadryl to Claritin for flights. Hopefully the airlines will figure out some way to make us all comfortable and make some extra profit at the same time. I think that when more people have a chance to fly under the new regulations it will get more attention.

  8. Wine-Oh says:

    I recently flew home to NYC from toronto. When I bought water they squirted it into a cup and kept the squeeze bottle. I asked them to pour it, to keep the splash down, and they said it was easier to squeeze out. Odd.

  9. Lauren Smith says:

    I entered a blog about this new set of regulations. It’s pretty ill-tempered and probably not the best way to get on the good side of the TSA, but it’s just so ridiculous that we have to go through all this rigamarole just to board a plane.

  10. eR0CK says:

    I’m not going to discuss politics and policies because I don’t feel this is the appropriate forum; however, you make a great point Heather.  In my six hour flight to Seattle from DC I got two ‘measly’ cups of water (along with a less then stellar meal).  

    This is a great opportunity for businesses to market their products.  Why even stop at selling water?  Why not allow companies to compete for meal alternatives to passengers?  I remember being a kid (wasn’t too long ago 😀 ) and getting a McDonald’s happy meal on United.  What happened?

    The airline companies need to do whatever they can to make passengers comfortable .. and they need to do so by spending as little money as possible.

    Great post Heather!

  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yeah, I don’t even care about debating the policies here. But it’s up to the airlines to decide whether we are going to be comfortable or not. There’s no regulation that says they can’t start serving larger cups of water or bottles of water or whatever. A friend told me yesterday that if you fly Jet Blue, they have the water in the back and you can get as much as you want. How ridiculous that that should seem like such a huge bonus but it does. Good for Jet Blue.

  12. Adele Revella says:

    I’ve been thinking about bringing an empty water bottle and asking the flight attendants to fill it. Has anyone tried that yet?

  13. Vicki says:

    I would just like to say that I absolutely, hands-down, DESPISE Atlanta-Hartsfield airport.

    They took the joy out of travel YEARS ago.


    If you want to travel in class and know what service is like, I would highly recommend British Airways. High-end little gift bags in Business Class and the fully reclinable seats (you had a BED for crying out loud and it was so nice and PRIVATE… I feel the tears welling up now thinking about it) were worth their price in gold.

    No, I didn’t get $17 lip gloss, but a pretty good lip conditioner in that fancy little L’Occtaine gift bag…

    Yes, I’ll take another Mimosa please …. 😉

  14. mrscrooge says:

    Schneier said it best

    "The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to recognize that terrorism is just one of the risks we face, and not a particularly common one at that. And our job is to fight those politicians who use fear as an excuse to take away our liberties and promote security theater that wastes money and doesn’t make us any safer."

    You have to read the whole article though 🙂,71642-0.html

  15. HeatherLeigh says:

    Adele-I haven’t tried that yet.

    Vicki- I suspect business and first class get a lot of things us comon people in coach don’t : )

  16. Kit says:

    My Husband’s plane recently had a crazy lady who got hysterical because she was sitting next to Middle eastern people.

    Plane was on runway moving getting ready to take off and she went crazy with the call button. they had to stop the plane and actaully took her off the plane. Things were delayed by like 1.2 hour.

    I feel bad for those guys. One was India and the other Palestinian. I think if she was going to get that hysterical then she should not be traveling at all on a plane.  She might have some reasons but all that should have been realized by her before the plane took to the runway.

    Flying is not as enjoyable as it used to be. I heard tha JK Rowling was not allowed to bring her laptop on plane flying form US to UK I think when they just had that UK incident. It is terrible that these crazy extreme have done that to our society.

    I am sad that they got rid of the Concorde. That was class and so fast. I love British Airway too though.  

  17. HeatherLeigh says:

    OK, I am happy to report that I flew Delta this past week and they were generous with the water (in bottles not tiny cups) and according to the news this morning, the TSA is lifting the ban on water on flights.

  18. B says:

    This might be coming off a bit too late since the TSA already lifted the ban, yet I think Heather’s thought on airlines making money through charging for water was an interesting thought. The only problem with that was the airlines implementing it would have gone down faster than a shooting star.

    Here is my reason: No sooner had one airline implemented this pricing than the others found this opportunity to differentiate themselves by serving FREE bottled water on flights. I can almost see the commercials saying things in the spirit of "We don’t charge you to replenish your body" at XYZ airlines. Trust me, the psycho-economics of the consumers would rebel if they were charged for water, but would be ready to pay a higher surplus for "great service with free water "

    Thoughts/comments upon this hypothetical case situation?

  19. Kit says:

    Speaking of Delta- I am always a bit hesitant to use them. They are good.

    It is just the name means *Screw me* in Vietnamese

    I cannot believe that planes are charging for water.

    I am glad that the airlines have lifted some of the ban on bringing things aboard.

    I really feel that no matter how much security we take that if someone with intent to do something destructive will get it accomplish one way or another. It is sad when these people resort to hurting civilians. That is so coward.

    I feel bad for all these airlines. It has hurt them