39°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Not American, Not United

When flying economy on a standard airline, you don’t expect much. All you can really hope for is that someone didn’t take the last ginger ale, or for the baby behind you to stop crying. Recently, on a trip to Austin for a journalism convention with some of my fellow Mass Media editors, I had the pleasure of flying with American airlines and we got a lot more than we expected.

The first delay couldn’t be blamed on the airline, considering our connecting flight at JFK was getting pelted by a storm, but the rest is entirely on them. To make it easier all ten of us split up into groups in an attempt to get on any airplane that would take us to Austin the fastest, which ended up scattering us to different airports throughout the country. Now I’d be OK with this if they hadn’t lost almost half of our luggage. Having to buy five days worth of clothes at a Target in Austin because the airline is making no attempt to clarify where our luggage is isn’t exactly the way we wanted to spend our first day there. Eventually––2 days later, to be exact––our luggage finally arrived at our hotel with absolutely no apology from the airline.

This is nothing compared to what some people experience through these airlines. D’Arcee Neal, who has cerebral palsy, was forced to crawl out of a United airplane after the airline took too long to get him a wheelchair. United, a part of American Airlines, called later to apologize, but that does nothing. People pay hundreds of dollars for tickets on these airlines, and get treated as if they are on a public bus. There is a clear problem when someone has to crawl out of a plane because the service they paid for isn’t what was promoted. The problem is plain and simple: they don’t care. In 2013, American Airlines was worth $1.9 billion; to them, one paraplegic person is a fly on the windshield of their plane.

What these airlines do care about is profit; promoting first class and frequent-flyer sign-ups at every chance they get. Letting the people who pay more sit in the front of the plane in comfier seats with more room, even though they just block the aisle for everyone getting to the back. These airlines are so centered on money, that it literally dictates the order of people getting on the plane and where they sit. You can actually see the income gap by staring down the aisle of a plane and that’s a major problem. I’m surprised they don’t charge us for oxygen masks when the cabin loses pressure.

I think that airlines should promote classless traveling. No first class, business class, economy class, just one plane full of people who bought the same ticket and want to fly comfortably. They airlines purposely put us in discomfort so that we pay more for the extra’s to try to ease our aching backs from the mostly plastic seats. They value their profit so much that they would rather pack everyone in economy, and let twelve people live like kings in first class, instead completely removing first class, twelve people, and let the other one hundred people get a little more room. They only care about the money, not the passenger.

I learned a decent amount about how much these airlines care while on our trip. The main thing is that you plainly can’t trust them. They own a monopoly on the sky and owning a private jet is far too expensive, so they weasel their way into your bank accounts, knowing you’ll pay for anything. Another thing is to just not fly American or United: the larger airlines have more passengers, giving them more people to care about, and less time to spend worrying about losing your luggage.