Holiday travel fun: trains, planes, and automobiles


More cool interchange photos.

And so the holiday travel season begins…

James Joyner points to Kevin Drum on the unfriendly skies and the $15 bag checking fee.

Last week Fresh Air had an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney who writes their “The Middle Seat” column. He warns us to watch out when we reach into those seat back pocket pouches on airplanes:

Mr. McCARTNEY: You know, I think this has been an issue that’s been simmering out there for a while. People do things on airplanes that they wouldn’t do in other places, and that’s always sort of fascinated me. I mean, you get into this with air rage and different things like that; but sort of on a less serious note, the disgusting personal habits and trash that people leave behind. It really made airplanes downright nasty, in some cases. This is…

DAVIES: Well, like what? What’re we talking about?

Mr. McCARTNEY: Well, the flight attendants, the number one thing they complain about are dirty diapers left in seat back pockets. And you push it down there, and it’s a big surprise, and it may have been there for a while. But it’s not just dirty diapers, it’s half-eaten hamburgers… it’s, you know, all kinds of things. Airplanes get cleaned a lot less these days because of the financial pain of the industry, and so stuff gets left there to fester and molder.

I think the other end of it are just sort of the nasty habits that people have. People complain about, you know, travelers sneezing into airline blankets. Well, then the blankets get folded up and put in the overhead bin, and the next guy comes along and doesn’t realize where that blanket’s been. It’s just, you know, people do things in public on airplanes that they wouldn’t do at restaurants, they wouldn’t do in their offices, and certainly not at home.

DAVIES: Well, this makes car travel sound so appealing. Are we seeing more of this because planes are being cleaned less or because passengers are angrier at airlines?

Mr. McCARTNEY: You know, I think there is an element of anger at work here, and I talked to some psychologists who thought that it was definitely a factor. People, you know, they come through the grumpy lanes at TSA’s security screening, and they don’t get their upgrade or they had to pay a baggage fee, or their flight is late, or they got bumped. Or whatever it is, there are lots of reasons why people are not happy when they get on the airplane.

On the other end of it is, they have no emotional connection to the airline or its employees. They probably didn’t even talk to an employee before they got on the airplane; they checked in at a self-service kiosk. If they did encounter an employee, it might be some grumpy person saying, you know, `Move along, move along, check your bag,’ whatever it would be, barking orders. So you don’t feel any need to take care of your favorite airline’s equipment or be nice to its employees.

And on the driving front, Freakonomics has some fun with The Cause of, and Solution to, All Our Traffic Problems.

Me, I’m taking the train to Philadelphia. Too bad I didn’t think earlier. The Bolt Bus features electrical outlets and WiFi. I could have blogged my way to the city of brotherly love…