Why I hate Time Magazine’s “20 Reasons to Hate Airlines” List

Time Magazine has published this list of 20 Reasons to Hate Airlines. In my opinion, the authors Richard Zoglin, Christine Lim and Deirdre Van Dyk, just hate flying. Some of their points are good, but others are extreme. My advice to them, next time take a bus. On a serious note, there are some points they have made that I agree with fully. They should have cut their list down to seven to eight real reasons everyone dislikes airlines, rather than 20 personal pet peeves they have (yes there is one about pets too), most of which make no sense.

1. The Hub System – Partially Valid:

I have talked about the Hub and Spoke system before. It is there for the airline’s convenience and profitability, not the passengers. But on the other hand, how many point to point flights can an airline have? Even Southwest that claims to not have a hub and spoke system, has airports that are becoming hubs for it. Try taking a flight on Southwest from Washington, DC (IAD) to Orange County, CA (SNA) in the Los Angeles area and you have to route thru a Southwest ‘hub’. Not a reason to hate airlines.

2. Nonrefundable fares – Not Valid:

Hotels now offer discounted, pre-paid, non-refundable fares. Do the authors hate hotels too? The only valid point in their analysis is the high change fees airlines charge. That is something for everyone to hate.

3. The demise of People Express – Not valid:

Really!? A super cheap airline fails because it is not financially viable and that is a reason to hate all other airlines that charge ticket prices that make them viable in the marketplace? Which economics class did these people go to? Really cheap airline fares came to an abrupt end in 1987 because no airline charging those low fares could ever survive bankruptcy.

4. The disappearance of Legroom – Valid:

I am too young to have even flown in a plane with a piano bar. Heck, I had never even heard of such a thing till I read this article. But, the lack of sufficient leg room is something to complain about. Being a 1K Elite on United, I am always in Economy Plus or higher and am truly spoilt. Every time I have to fly a US Airways 737, I get reminded of what real lack of leg room is. I am with the authors on this one.

5. Frequent Flier Gimmickry – Partially Valid:

Yes, it exists. Read this blog and participate in forums at FlyerTalk and we will help you take care of most issues in this area.

6. Lunch is Not Served – Partially Valid:

You still get food on domestic flights. You just have to buy it. If you have flown United, the food you get to buy on trans-Continental flights is not bad at all. Sure, free food would be better.

7. Speak to an Agent? Don’t press 1 – Not Valid:

In today’s world of online transactions, this is the directions ALL companies are taking, not just the airlines. While this is a valid point in general, there is no reason to single out airlines. There is still no fee to just speak to an agent and ask questions. The fee is just to book a ticket.

8. Pay TV – Not Valid:Reasons to hate airline.JPG

I don’t even get what they are trying to say here. They liked the movies on the tube screen hanging in the middle of the aisle but don’t like the movies on the cool LCD screens right in front of you? They still play movies on flights. They are free. About the headset fee, I have never actually paid for headsets. I anyway carry my own noise-reduction headphones on every flight.

9. Pay for Pets – Not Valid:

Huh? You fly, you pay. Your pet flies, you pay for them too. What’s the problem? Why should pets be free when my bag is not?

10. The security line confiscation – Not Valid:

A few terrorists in the UK make a plot to blow up airlines using liquid explosives. This results in the TSA and other airline security agencies all over the world come to a joint decision to limit carry on liquids on all flights. How is this the airlines fault? My dear friends, this is a reason to hate flying and to hate terrorists. Not airlines.

11. Checked-bag fees – Valid:

Yes. This is a reason to hate airlines. All it did was make passengers try to walk onto planes with extra large, over-stuffed carry-ons. At least one bag should be checked in free for everyone.

12. Who took my blanket – Valid:

I agree that this is a big expense for airlines. They have to put in clean blankets after every flight. But darn, most planes are freezing cold. At least there should be a few free blankets for those of us need to stay warm.

13. VIP for a day – Not Valid:

I don’t get this one either. What is there to hate? Are the authors complaining about the existence of day-passes to airline lounges or their price? It is totally optional, in case they did not know? If you cannot sit in the plastic seats at the gate, go to a restaurant, order a snack and sit there. Leave the lounge for those of us willing to pay or are there because of their status (on a non-US based airline).

14. All seats are not created equal – Valid:

I am with the authors here. I especially have a big peeve with US Airways charge for ‘Preferred’ seats. Except for the Exit Row seats, they do not have extra leg room.

15. Stingy over Soft Drinks – Not Valid:

Since the demise of Ted, I am not aware of any airline that is really stingy on soft drinks or coffee/tea. Ted never gave you the whole can, just filled up your cup. The authors seem to be hating all airlines because US Airways for a short period of time had made the not-so-smart decision to charge for soft drinks. It was revoked very quickly.

16. Bye Bye Standby – Valid:

This is a scam by airlines. In reality, if the earlier flight has an unsold seat, airlines would want a passenger from a later flight to take it. This frees up a seat on a later flight that they can still sell.

17. Carry-on Luggage – Not Valid:

Spirit air has ‘proposed’ to charge for carry-on bags. No other airline is even suggesting that they will do the same. Hardly a reason to hate all airlines.

18. Surcharges on Peak Travel days – Partially Valid:

Ticket prices are dynamic. They are based on load and availability. Prices on peak travel days go up naturally. The airlines have only added to their troubles and bad rap by adding a separate line item for the ‘Peak Day’ surcharge.

19. The cut-in line charge – Not valid:

It’s like the HOT lane on a highway. HOT stands for ‘High Occupancy or Toll’ lane. You want to drive in the lanes with less traffic, have two or more passengers or pay a toll. Same concept here. You want to board early, have Elite Status, a small infant with you or pay a fee. Not the most popular way to approach things, especially for the ones at the back of the line, but acceptable.

20. Pay Toilets – Not Valid:

Say what? They hate airlines because one low-cost airline in Europe suggested that they may charge to use the restroom? Even Ryan Air has made no plans to implement it. No other airline is even saying that is a viable idea. Hardly a reason to hate all airlines. Congress proposes a lot of useless, impractical bills that never make it to law or even get voted on. That is no reason to suddenly start hating Congress. There are plenty of other reasons to hate it, but thats for another post on another blog. This reason seems like it was added there because the authors ran out of ideas and needed one more to make it an even 20. They should have taken a page out of Steven Covey’s book and stuck to seven reasons.

The final score:

Valid – 5, Partially Valid – 4, Not Valid – 11. These folk need to fly some more (or less).

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  1. You are incorrect on the “pay for pets” part – in my opinion. They are brought on board as you carry-on and fit under the seat in front of you. You are not paying 100 dollars to put a bag under the seat in front of you. What makes it more insulting is when you pay 100 dollars or more for a short flight for your dog to go under the seat in front of you and your seat only cost 79 dollars. I do, however, agree with “reservations” for pets. No one wants to be on a plane with 25 dogs.

  2. Aaron, thanks for your perspective. I do agree that pets should not cost more than the ticket of the human they are accompanying.

  3. I have to disagree with unroadwarrior’s opinions in point 2, point 6 and point 10. I am not a frequent flyer but I pay a lot of attention on flying

    point 2 – Do you know that Southwest Airlines will return every single penny you paid for your ticket into a voucher, and you can use it within a year? A lot of time travelers make mistakes and thus they want their money back. I don’t know if Southwest Airlines is the only airline that refunds your money as voucher, but I know none of the major airlines (UA, Delta, AA) will do the same.

    point 6 – do you know that Cathay Pacific Airlines still serve meals on flights within Asia for free? On top of that, the quality of food is not bad. It is not a cold sandwich, but a standard meal. If Asian-based airline can do it, I don’t see any reason why US-based airline can’t.

    point 10 – the security line is completely B.S. You should watch the video “End of Liberty” on youtube. They talked about TSA and the security line. Sure, it is not airlines’ fault, but this make travelling by air less pleasurable.

  4. Bobby,

    Thanks for sharing. My thoughts in the post are challenging what the author of the original Time magazine article says. So, the context is important.

    Point 2: Southwest is an exception. Even other low fare airlines like JetBlue are not that relaxed on refunds as SWA is.
    Point 6: No US based airline serves free meals on domestic flights anymore, in economy. The context here is US based airlines.
    Point 10: We are both on the same page here. TSA’s security procedures – right or wrong – are not the airlines fault. We cannot blame them for any of them.


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