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I’m Now On a Personal Crusade Against the NY Times for Their Airline Reporting

I just wrote recently about an article in the New York Times that began with a nonsense premise of how airlines have been taking amenities away from customers and generally making the flying experience a miserable hell.  I called out the Times’ lazy writing and noted how we actually have it better than ever in the in-flight amenity department.

So when I woke up this morning and read this gigantic pile of nonsense in the Times about “aggrieved flyers” with the lede “As if air travel could get any worse…”

I am now making it my personal goal to get this crap to stop.  Between the ridiculous misinformation about the body scanners, to the constant articles in publications that should know better about how awful it is to fly, on this Thanksgiving I am making it my crusade to get news organizations to stop with the ignorant and incorrent premise that passengers have it worse than ever.  As we’ve written about here repeatedly, that is simply not true.

Just look at the first paragraph from that article: “The airlines have already taken away the free meals and the pillows. They have been charging for checked bags and extra legroom and raising fares whenever they can get away with it. They have been packing more people onto planes as they slashed the number of flights scheduled each day. And passengers now have fewer options if bad weather cancels or delays their flights.”

Free meals?  Pillows?  PILLOWS????????  That’s the problem with air travel, that they don’t offer pillows on some flights?  That’s in the lede of an article in the NY Times?  They offer extra legroom and have the gall to CHARGE FOR IT?  That’s the issue?  Or that they are raising fares to (still reasonable) levels where they can, God forbid, make a profit?  That’s the problem?  You know how much they raised fares? Last night I checked what a roundtrip ticket would cost leaving today (one of the busiest days of the year) and returning Monday (also busy) between New York and Ft. Lauderdale.  With 1 day advanced purchase, it would cost $420.  HOW IS THAT NOT A BARGAIN?

He then complains that airlines are scheduling fewer flights and that you then have fewer choices if your own flight is canceled.  As an example, he cites that in the first 9 months of the year, American and United scheduled 1400 fewer flights between LaGuardia and O’Hare.  Let’s break that down.  That’s about 5 fewer flights per day, or 2.5 fewer per airline.  But really, how bad to New York – Chicago flyers have it? American offers 11 flights per day.  United has 13.  And while they may have reduced their flights,  Delta offers 9 flights per day.  And Southwest has 5.  So the aggrieved flyer trying to go from LaGuardia to Chicago only has 38 flights a day to choose from.  Rough.

And finally, he quotes someone who says, “Air travel used to be glamorous and exciting — and now, it’s just a pain…”  Air travel was glamorous because it was new, in the same way that taking the train was glamorous.  And taking a bus was glamorous.  And riding in a car was glamorous in 1907.  It was glamorous because no one did it and because it cost 20 times as much.

On this Thanksgiving, I’d like everyone to stop complaining for 5 minutes and realize how good we have it.  I’m about to hop on a flight to Florida to see family for Thanksgiving.  A flight that cost $180.  Stop whining.

And to the NY Times:  please stop with the lazy writing.  For $2, I deserve better.

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  1. long time listner, first time caller. i fly over 150K a year, exec platinum on AA and platinum on QF (just moved to Australia). you are 100% right and I’d argue that the other 40K (out of 200K) consultants that travel for work at my company would argree with you. Fight the good fight my man…

  2. This is exactly why I cancelled my subscription to NYT several years ago. Their attitude is Freedom of the press rules over accuracy, both sides of issue reporting, and they don’t care when they are wrong – no self discipline.

  3. Hear hear! Awesome and well-targeted post. It’s definitely NOT about the pillows. :)

  4. The taxes cost 150$ on a ticket from Montreal to Boston (a 5 hour drive). That’s TAXES ONLY. Add the indecent airfare and you figured out that even if you buy a ticket 12 weeks in advance, you won’t get anything below 400$ (including taxes). Taxes in Canada are crazy. So, having a full ticket from NY to FLL for 180$, you bet it’s really amazingly good. Screw the blanket and pillow, just give me a good safety record and I’m in.

    As for body scanners, I’ll never go through them. They can pat me down (rape) me as much as they want, I’m still not going through them. All the stats I see are made up. I work in technology and learned to distrust anything that hasn’t really been tested (no, this is not the same type of radiation that we get when airborne + other misinformation that also is carried around but coming from all the same sources). Anyway, it’s my right to potentially be stupid. Besides, I know I’ll die from cancer, a heart attack or a car accident and not from some terrorist attack… They’d better focus on scanning 100% of the cargo… Or give that money to cancer research, we’d save more lives… seriously.


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