Reasons Why I Will Not Fly Commercial Aircraft

PaI nor my wife travel by commercial aircraft, and we never will.

Let me begin by informing you that I worked for a now extinct airline at LAX from 1967 to 1977. During the early years of my employment with “Bonanza Airlines,” and “Air West,” it was a mostly pleasant experience. Customer service was very real and our number one priority.

There was virtually no security, the fares were reasonable, and cooperation between all departments offered our passengers an enjoyable experience.

I didn’t make a lot of money, but I began when I was 21 years old and made a lot of friends.
Move forward to 1973. I arrived at LAX early one morning, and went to the departure area, the “gates.” A ten-foot wall had been erected between the waiting area and the departure area. There were three openings where luggage and all ‘carry-on’ items were being hand searched by a private security company, “Wackenhut.”

As a gate agent, I was required to “profile” our passengers. If the traveler was a single man, traveling one way on a ticket paid for in cash, the boarding pass received a red “X.” The Air Marshalls were notified, and they were present as that individual passed through the metal detector inside of the door leading to the ramp. Our biggest fear during that period of time were “hijackers.”

We were surprised when one of the men we profiled was caught. He had a small handgun inside of a hollowed-out book, which triggered the metal detector. I always wondered what his intentions might have been.
Working for the airlines became less fun, and in 1977 I began another career.

Traveling by air today is uncomfortable and unpleasant. Outrageous fares and other charges, the inefficiency of the TSA, and being squeezed into seats meant for a child make the experience extremely irritating.

A number of years ago I was lied to so many times by an agent of an airline which will remain unnamed, and the flight was so miserable, I wrote a letter promising that I would never travel on that airline again. The vice-president of public relations sent me an apology and two vouchers for 100 dollars each. I sent them back asking if they read my letter: I would not be flying on their airline again.

Everything became worse after the tragic events of 9/11. No one was surprised, and as expected, air travel became more irritating, and the TSA more invasive but still inefficient.

In 1973 hijacking aircraft once again became rare, there were few delays caused by security, and the cost was approximately 10 percent of what it is today. Government waste and incompetency have increased the unpleasantness of traveling by air.

I now drive or take Amtrak.

Op-ed by James Turnage


My eight novels are available on Amazon’s Kindle

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