Where Have The Friendly Skies Gone?

Friendly Skies

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint

Remember when flying the friendly skies meant:

  • You received a meal with the price of your ticket instead of a meal for purchase.
  • You checked your luggage for free unless it exceeded 50 pounds instead of the flat rate of $25.
  • You received complimentary headphones to watch the in-flight movie instead of supplying your own.
  • You received a full can of soda with a cup of ice instead of a plastic cup of soda.

Plus there were these added services like:

  • During descent the flight attendant would announce the gates for all the connecting flights of passengers so you didn’t have to look for it when you landed.
  • If there were delays and it was possible that you would miss your connecting flight, the attendant at you arrival gate would call the departure gate of your next flight and request they wait for you.

If you don’t remember, you missed out on a golden age in air travel.

But the friendly skies went the way of safer skies which can be traced back to a single moment in American history. 9/11 is my generation’s equivalent of “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” It changed the landscape of America literally and figuratively.

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint Model in the lobby of my hotel. Only sight seeing I got in.

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint
Model in the lobby of my hotel. Only sight seeing I got in.

Usually the changes in practice don’t bother me but my recent trip to DC on business found me longing for the convenience of quality customer service while traveling. Don’t get me wrong, I value the safety of our nation. It’s just created a deficit in courtesy.

Still, I make it a rule not to be rude to flight attendants or ticket clerks. I employ manners … using my “please” and “thank you” words; letting my smile reach my eyes. They don’t have an easy job.

But the pursuit of safer skies over friendly has made airlines apathetic to the travelers’ plight. Essentially were held hostage to these skies; accepting our rations in our cold cramped spaces with grateful smiles.

My desire for the friendly skies to return started when I checked in for this trip. There was a request for volunteers to give up their seats. I opted not to and thought nothing of it.

However, my coworker who came to the airport later than me wasn’t given an option. She was booked on a later flight. Then was grounded at her layover spot and missed our first event session …

While sitting in the gate area, they announced that our plane was late but only by 10 minutes so “it won’t affect any connecting flights.” Really?

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint Before take off ...

© 2013 the Jotter’s Joint
Before take off …

We landed and I had less than 15 minutes to get to my next gate, which of course required me to run (and I’m out of shape, so picture me huffing, puffing, and wheezing; lugging a backpack and a purse).

Surprisingly, I got there in enough time … I held out my boarding pass and the attendant at the gate took it and scanned it without meeting my gaze or interrupting her conversation with another attendant. They had NO concern for me or my near miss. It added to my heaviness.

On the return trip … I handed my checked bag to the TSA agent for scanning. He didn’t make eye contact or ask me the standard safety questions … you know:

  • Firearms or other weapons?”
  • Lighters or flammable chemicals?
  • Film or batteries?”

Instead he was scrolling through his Facebook feed on his iPhone. He didn’t even speak to me.

So much for safer skies. In that moment “friendly” and “safe” were on a break. We all lost.

Bring back the friendly skies! Who’s with me? I am hopeful for my next trip …

Seriously, though, there has to be a way to marry the two; so we can fly the safe friendly skies. What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your stories good, bad or indifferent about traveling the [insert adjective of choice] skies …

FUN FACT: The “Fly the Friendly Skies” ad campaign and tagline were used by United Airlines from 1965-1996. If you’re interested you can check out some of their old commercials on YouTube. Below are links to a couple that I enjoyed:

Friendly Skies – Nice Flight

Friendly Skies – Friendship Service

Friendly Skies – 1982 Commercial