Friday, January 29, 2010

Any one for more legroom on an airplane?

The post consumerism blogger doesn’t travel as much as he once did, so my recent cross country trip from Portland, Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts and return, was full of surprises.

First surprise: Much smaller crowds at the airport terminals, shorter lines and less harried customer service agents.

Second surprise: Shorter or non existent lines at vendors kiosks and restaurants. (My mouse went south, so I needed to get to the electronics kiosk. Another positive: I had a an amusing conversation with the kiosk clerk.)

Third surprise: Fewer delays. (Due to a significant reduction in domestic flights.)

Fourth surprise: United Airlines offers an upgrade to what they call “Economy Plus” which provides 5 inches more leg room with 6 across the row vs 4 in first class. For my own justification I calculated the upgrade as $10 per hour ($40 from PDX to ORD, the airlines website quotes Denver to Seattle as $49). An added benefit was that there were very few takers for the upgrade and on all four legs the middle seat was empty. I arrived fresh and returned home fresh and the $200 round trip upgrade was well worth the reduced wear and tear on my body and mind.

The economy section was full six across in every row. They looked cramped back there.

I don’t travel as many miles as I once did, one of the big benefits of a post-consumer world to all sectors of society. Travel had become stressful and really, really resource wasteful, in my personal view. Changing careers and working on-line was both a health and personal life style choice for me. (that choice  turned out great.)

In the post-consumer economy where we buy fewer goods and services I expect (hope) that businesses will reset to smaller volume operations. We can expect companies to try and extract small premiums for small luxuries. I really hope that more business will look at being more profitable through added value services and providing goods with a longer life expectancy rather than just squeezing us more.

I look forward to a less stressful non consumptive (irony?) life style.

PS: I am all for added baggage fees. Being a former professional traveler, like learning to ride a bicycle, I have not lost the ability to pack light. One small overhead with my notebook PC for a week on the road. I found that I took too many things.

PPS: I enjoyed breaking out my wonderful Italian fine wool overcoat, purchased over a decade ago and using it. During the winter months, back east, men still wear overcoats, so I didn’t look silly or out of style.

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