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Air Bus

Bus with wings.

That's what someone recently called the flying experience of late, and I have to say that my recent experiences have made that description sound pretty appealing. Here's the rundown of the last several flights I'd taken:

  • JetBlue, NY to Oakland: Luggage lost for 5 days.
  • JetBlue, NY to West Palm: two hour delay
  • ATA, NY to Chicago: Two hour delay on the runway
  • ATA, Chicago to NY: We boarded the relatively empty plane and sat at the gate for over an hour. Then we were told to get off the plane, as the flight was being cancelled due to bad weather in NY. Oddly, about two hours later they reboarded our plane with the next flight—which was full, so those of us on the original flight were SOL. Another two hours later, I made it on a stand-by list. And the weather in NY? Just fine.
  • USAir, Newark to Pittsburgh: The plane's on schedule when I arrive. Then, just about as we're scheduled to board, I'm told that the plane hasn't even left Pittsburgh yet due to traffic in Newark. We leave about 90 minutes after that. I arrive at my hotel after midnight.

And yesterday, I flew from LGA to Raleigh on Delta. The flight wasn't so bad—"only" one hour late—but I arrived at the terminal an hour early for an 8:15 a.m. flight to see the longest security line I have ever seen in my entire life. It snaked through the entire elaborate system of elastic barriers, to the back of the Delta terminal, back to the front, back to the back again, and—finally—outside, where the line stretched the entire length of the terminal itself. We're talking at least a two hour line here, probably longer.

I was lucky enough to hear a woman talk about the OTHER line, which it turned out was for people leaving within the next hour. When a guy next to me complained, the security agent shrugged and said it had been like this every day for over a week.

I know about the budget cuts and the financial pressures faced by the airlines, but things seem to be spinning out of control all of a sudden, to the point that it's becoming more and more difficult to do business because getting to your destination has become such an ordeal. Am I alone here, or have things suddenly taken a 9/11-style turn for the worse?