Source: mazHur Goal / flickr
The airlines don’t even try to hide their contempt for their passengers anymore. I have a feeling soon they will tell us they hate us at the check-in counter.
The airport is “opposite world”. People who otherwise barely move are seen running towards nowhere. High fashion is Ugg boots and yoga pants. Happy hour starts at 07:00 and never ends. It is expected to step over sleeping adults in the fetal position. All purchases are made in a 1000% inflationary market. Do you really need that $10 People magazine? And this is the last acceptable place to eat Cinnabon.
The boarding process: humanity has left the building
In few other cases, your life status is as publicly displayed as during the airline boarding process. It’s by design: airlines publicly rate you over the airport bullhorn, rewarding or demeaning you and other customers based on how much you’ve spent with them. The airline’s credo? “If you want to travel humanely, you will pay.”
All airlines have to move people from place to place via the troposphere. How they begin their process, however, can vary widely and is most evident in the onboarding process. As soon as the gate attendant blows a hot mic, people jump to their feet in pole position, blocking all paths to the catwalk ready to blitz the ticket scanner.
There are notable reasons why we act like goats during the onboarding process, including the following:
- Crowd mentality. It has been suggested that just five people can influence a crowd of 100 to follow suit. Think #BlackFriday.
- Competition. We want to be the first on board and the first to get off the plane. It often becomes every man for himself, as if airports and planes are hells where common sense and courtesy don’t apply.
- Impatience. People crowd at the door with the illusion of getting to their destination faster. A better use of time is to find a nearby space and do squats and leg stretches to avoid the onset of DVT.
Baggage fees. Airplanes almost always have enough space in the overhead compartments for each passenger. In fact, new planes have increased storage space.1 But they don’t want you to use it for free.
Airlines have mastered the art of manipulating planting seeds of anxiety, so you’ll pay a little more to check your bag or opt for an earlier boarding. They depend on these fees to remain profitable. In 2021, US airlines alone collected $4.3 billion in baggage fees, with major US airlines earning a total of $12.7 billion from such fees since 2019.2 Why can’t airlines lose our emotional baggage instead?
To maximize profits, airlines create the illusion of extremely limited storage space, while continuing to divide boarding groups into ever-finer stratifications. You board based on your value to the airline, with the latter group boarding cheaply in exchange for a willingness to be downgraded.
Think of the 10 levels of the Delta Airlines boarding process as a representation of the psychological game you entered:
- Delta One® (The Illuminati Boarding Groups)
- First class
- Delta Premium Select
- Delta Comfort+®
- sky priority
- Main cabin 1 (The last batch of semi-elite before the fuselage-fruit filling of the garbage peaks)
- Main cabin 2
- Main cabin 3
- Basic Economy (We roll over the jet deck like the end credits of a sad movie. Airline staff avoid looking us in the eye, knowing we’ve barely had a full tank of gas.)
To increase your anxiety and subtly nudge you into paying priority, airlines enforce these splits while trading longer boarding times for additional revenue. Councils united in 6 groups, American 9 and Delta 10.
Airlines would benefit from knowing that research indicates that flight crew competence and quality of service are strongly linked to both flight anxiety and traveler satisfaction.3 But they still wouldn’t care. Only one thing is certain: they will remain profitable, and we will remain uneasy.
6 tactics for a less stressful trip (not without stress):
- Anticipate your stress and anxiety. Nothing like travel to create or aggravate stress and anxiety. Include this in your itinerary. As a child, you anticipated ghosts. Now you can anticipate air rage and peanut allergies.
- The practice is making progress. Build your risk tolerance before travel day to build resilience in the face of the unknown. Think an overnight or weekend getaway, without buying an RV and hitting Branson. The goal is not to make your next flight your first major new experience since COVID and Zoom.
- Know your triggers. We make bad decisions when we are hungry, angry, anxious or tired. Being able to identify your triggers will help you quickly leverage coping tactics without deploying an escape slide on a crying baby.
- Plan ahead. Don’t going to the airport at 6:00 a.m. for a flight at 1:00 p.m. Do bring all the soothing travel essentials you need for your mental and physical well-being. These can include books, electronics, snacks, medicine, that stupid neck pillow, and contact information for those in your circle of support.
- Strongly consider avoiding caffeine and alcohol. Both can dehydrate you into a drying out body. Additionally, they can both increase anxiety. Anxiety comes into play with caffeine, alcohol, and being crammed into an overhead toilet bus.
- Don’t fall asleep until the snack cart reaches your row.
Note: If someone is Christmas shopping for me, I’m a “window seat” size.
#real #reason #travel #full #anxiety