I worked in the airline business (Eastern) for nearly a decade. Sometimes, I miss it. But I DO NOT like what has become of the industry, whether a “legacy” carrier or one that hasn’t been around long enough to be considered legacy. Notwithstanding the insane air fares and “fees, fees, all them FEES,” we are now witnessing travelers’ patience starting to fracture as the airlines continue to shrink “seat pitch*.” The airlines, in their drive for more revenue, jam as many passengers into the coach cabin as possible, have reduced seat pitch to a point to where if you’re a six-footer traveling on a cross country flight, you will probably have a very uncomfortable ride. Add to that the passenger in front of you who incessantly slams into your knees to recline their seat as if going to bed for the night and the kid behind you who insists on using your seat as a tree to climb, and it’s not hard to see why we have a sudden spike in air rage incidents. You’ve probably seen them recently reported in the national media, so I needn’t rehash them here. Once upon a time, you could sit in an airline seat and actually cross your legs—in coach!—but now, you feel worse than sardines in a can. A well-known airline analyst, Robert Mann, said it best, in a Daily Beast article, “It’s like rats in a maze. At a certain point they start eating each other.”

I don’t anticipate airline execs’ being clobbered aside their collective heads with a sudden sense of benevolence, under which they might increase seat pitch, so in the absence of that level of sanity, it might be time to consider locking the seats so they no longer recline. If you’d like to see a list of all the carriers (domestic and international), and their respective seat pitch—for all classes of service, click here.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I certainly don’t have a beef with the airlines earning a profit. In fact, when I look at the days when I worked in the industry, most lost money…in the billions! But it stands to reason that there could be a better balance in profitability, while maintaining a comfortable on-board environment for passengers.

I don’t travel as much as I used to, but many of my friends still do, and some travel a lot, so this subject should resonate with many of you. Feel free to share your thoughts…and keep calm when flying the “friendly” skies!

*Seat Pitch (as defined by Skytrax)

This is the distance between a row of seats – the measurement from the same position on two seats, one behind the other – it is NOT the legroom area as some believe. (For example, the back face of the seat in front of you, measured to the same point on the back face of the seat you are sitting in).

Last week, The Fetching Mrs. Wall and I went to see the vintage WWII aircraft on display at the Lyon Air Museum, near John Wayne Airport. We had heard the planes flying overhead through the weekend, so we went to see them up close. Laurie’s dad was a B-26 pilot (“Marauder”) during that war and was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross), so she wanted to see “Dad’s plane.” A slightly unnerving side note: The Marauder also had another, less attractive nickname: “The Widowmaker,” as it was one of that era’s most difficult aircraft to fly, and crashed all too frequently.

While at the museum, I had the honor of meeting (Ret.) Lt.Col. Robert Friend, a member of the Tuskeegee Airmen. Bob was signing autographs, mingling and talking with the museum’s visitors, and he had quite the line waiting to speak with him. Because I had something specific to discuss with Bob, I patiently waited in line for my turn. While chatting with Bob, we discovered we had a mutual friend: Col. Hannibal M. Cox, Jr., who was also a Tuskeegee Airman. Hannibal was a dear friend and mentor during my days at Eastern Airlines, and to have made this linkage with Bob Friend, made the visit to Lyon Air Museum all the more special! Alas, we lost Hannibal in 1988, and with him, went another of our cherished “red tails.” I’m just glad that Bob is not only still among us, but that he also lives in Orange County; which means I’ll get to see him again.

TeeLaurBobFriend

 

Editor’s note: After publishing this story, I was reminded by another Eastern Airlines colleague that we had yet another of the storied Tuskeegee Airmen in our midst: Jim Plinton. Jim was an Eastern VP and while a member of the “Airmen,” helped to train pilots! Two extraordinary men at an extraordinary time in US aviation!

COME ON PEOPLE…IT WAS A 4.4 QUAKE, FOR GOODNESS SAKE!! On TV this morning, Chris Schauble STOPS the morning newscast and he and his co-anchor dive under the desk. http://on.today.com/1eLjahP On Channel 7, Leslie Sykes does the same thing, but at least Phillip Palmer stayed cool and calm through it all. Most of the local morning programming even preempted the normal cut over to the networks at 7:00am; only NBC sensed there was “nothing (more) to see here,” and switched to the “Today Show.”

IT WAS A 4.4 FOLKS!! We should save our adrenaline for a time when we really need it. Like the 6.7 Northridge Earthquake that we experienced some 20 years ago.

My $0.02 for the day.

In late 2012, after losing my job in digital marketing, I decided to pull my avocation out front and make it my vocation. Hence the start of First Impressions Video. If you are a follower of this blog, you might tune in over there and if you’d like to see samples, let me know and I’ll direct you to my Vimeo site.

FirstImpressionsVideo.com

Thanks for stopping by!

A few days ago, we lost Sid Caesar; arguably one of the most brilliant funnymen of his era. I am a baby-boomer and today we lost one of our generation’s sharpest, wittiest, most indelible comic talents: Harold Ramis. Just think of all the movies this guy touched–either as actor, writer, director, or producer, and on a number of occasions, Ramis held multiple roles. Now think about the one-liners and catch phrases we ALL remember from these movies, and there’s no wonder we will miss Harold Ramis!! Thanks, Harold…you made us laugh–a lot!

Thoughts on a dwindling population

Posted: February 22, 2014 in History

Walt Ehlers, America’s last surviving D-Day Medal of Honor recipient passed away two days ago. How many of you knew that? How many of you knew what Justin Bieber or Kim Kardashian did? Yeah, I thought so. Can we please make sure we’ve got our priorities straight and give honor and respect to those who deserve it?

Without complaining, these men and women from WWII came home, set all those horrors aside, went to work building this country in arguably the largest post-war industrial surge in our history, and became The Greatest Generation. We owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid, and there aren’t many left, so if you encounter a WWII veteran, shake his or her hand, look them straight in the eye, and say thank you.

Does anyone NOT think that raising the minimum wage ONE HUNDRED PERCENT won’t show up on prices? Come on now! And for the record, in my entire career, I NEVER had my salary doubled…EVER!! Want to make more money? Acquire the skills to move out of the lower positions in your company! Go to a tech school, junior college or 4-year university, and improve your skills! These jobs were never intended to be career positions! By the way, there are some fast food restaurants that DO pay more than minimum wage!

http://nyti.ms/1bm8Ayu