There's no question about it: airlines want you to suffer. From waiting in long security lines that move at a snail's pace to the struggle to find a cab at your destination, every moment of air travel is an exercise in hellish inefficiency. That's not to mention all the terrible people on planes. Flying really is a nightmare.
It would be one thing if air travel had to be the worst for some reason. But in reality, the ways airlines make you miserable are not only calculated, but they are a part of the business model. There are endless ways airlines make flying horrible, and they do it to make more money. These are just some of the dirty facts about flying that make it clear airlines care more about the bottom line than they do about the comfort of their customers.
They Shrink Seats To Force More Passengers Onto Planes
Does it seem like airplane cabins are getting more cramped? You're not imagining things. Since the 1970s, plane seats have shrunk from an average width of 18 inches to 16.5 inches, and spacing between rows has gone from 35 inches to 31 inches. Why? Money, of course. Smaller seats and narrower rows mean more paying customers can be squeezed onto each flight.
They Intentionally Overbook Flights
Airlines overbook flights on a regular basis. Why? Because they know not everyone will show up. They use algorithms to determine when they will overbook, how much to overbook, and the likelihood of needing to de-plane a few passengers. And while airlines ask for volunteers before involuntarily kicking anyone off a flight, every airline is legally allowed to choose the people they remove. Unfortunately, there's no federal law dictating why airlines boot passengers, meaning the selection process can be all up to the crew of that particular aircraft.
They’re Literally Trying To Make Air Travel Worse
The airline industry makes money off something called "calculated misery." The majority of their money comes from charging extra fees for perks like more legroom, extra luggage, and faster boarding time. That means the baseline service needs to be intolerable, so people are willing to pay more for a modicum of comfort.
This cruel model makes money for airlines, so there's no incentive for them to stop.
They Charge Huge Fees For Rescheduling A Flight
If you're taking a fairly quick flight and need to reschedule, you may find the airline rescheduling fee is actually higher than your ticket price. Airlines are allowed to charge these fees because they claim they pay for the opportunity costs the company would incur if you missed your flight.
There are some steps you can take to avoid these fees. The US Department Of Transportation allows you to change or cancel your flight within 24 hours of booking it without legally facing any fees. You can book two one-way tickets instead of a round-trip ticket so that your flight times can be flexible. Or, you could just not show at all; fines for missing a flight can be cheaper than a rescheduling fee.