Despite disasters such as the one that was the Titanic’s fate, ocean liners were for years the only way people could travel between the United States and Europe. Even after passenger service by air became available after the late 1920s, scheduled transit by ship across the Atlantic remained common.
By the late 1970s, only the Cunard Line offered regular transatlantic passenger service. Several others continue to offer cruise experiences while “crossing the pond,” but today’s travelers are in a hurry. Most book a flight.
For a while, Cunard’s marketing slogan was “getting there is half the fun.” Frequent flyers might find that concept foreign these days.
Airline marketing slogans through the years have included “Ready When You Are,” “Just Plane Smart,” “You’ll Love the Way We Fly,” and “Fly the Friendly Skies.” Delta perhaps best described the status of modern air travel as long ago as 1984 when its advertising agency told us, “Delta Will Get You There.”
If “get you there” is the best they can promise about your travel experience, well, thank you very much.
Air travel is now so routine and reliable, some people become belligerent when anything goes awry. And this time of year, when stormy weather is so common, posted schedules are frequently scrambled.
My family has taken several roundtrip flights between Texas and the East Coast this spring, and all of them were affected by weather. On one trip, passengers were stranded on the airport concourse for a couple of hours because ground crews weren’t allowed to venture out due to lightning in the area.
In another situation a few years ago, the woman sitting on our row missed a business dinner at the University of Texas because she thought a flight scheduled to land at 4 p.m. would leave her time to attend. Mother Nature thought differently.
For some reason, affected passengers are eager to blame the airline they’ve chosen for such delays — even though every airline flying into a particular airport is experiencing the same difficulties. My daughter has advanced a theory that certain major airports — usually the so-called hubs — are jinxed. At least, they are for her.
Meanwhile, passengers have become jaded. Not only have they come to expect the impossible when weather intervenes, they have begun to snub the cautionary statements of flight attendants.
They’re too bored to listen to the safety message. They keep checking their electronic devices when asked to stow them. Table tops remain down. Seat backs stay pushed back into the faces of the passengers behind them. When asked to comply, they don’t hear those requests because they’re wearing headsets costing more than their tickets.
Come on, folks, this isn’t a Trailways bus you’re riding. We’ve lost our respect for the pilots and the technology needed to propel tons of aircraft, people, and baggage 35,000 feet into the sky.
As for me, I always direct my attention to flight attendants whenever that familiar speech begins. I make eye contact. I show them that I appreciate what they are doing, and that I’m listening even though I’ve heard it before. If you’re lucky, the flight attendant will offer a humorous comment to keep your attention.
Some airplanes play the safety message on a video screen. I prefer the personal presentation. I have this silly notion that passengers who pay attention will be the first they help off the airplane should something happen.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.