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Continental and the GOP

I’m not saying what you should do with this information, if anything. But I thought I’d let you know that Continental Airlines is the official airline of the Republican National Convention. Maybe that’ll make you fly them more. Maybe that’ll make you fly them less. Maybe you’ll ask why they’d get into bed with a political party and then advertise that fact. Maybe you’re proud of that association. I have no idea. I do know that my pathetic desire for Elite status will trump whatever feelings I may have on the matter, though.

Speaking of Continental, I flew out to Phoenix yesterday on Continental and was reminded of one of the bigger problems facing the industry. I love to fly, and I have an unhealthy interest in the industry (hence this blog), so I’m not someone who complains constantly about airlines. In fact, my gripe today is about the traveling public.

Continental has shrunk the size of their planes flying cross country, as I was flying on a 737 for 4 hours and 45 minutes yesterday (in coach, sadly), on a full flight. Seat pitch on these planes is only 31 inches (meaning 31 inches from seatback to seatback), which is, frankly, uncomfortable after 2 hours. So imagine my disappointment when the jackass in front of me reclined his seat fully into my lap after we took off. I was quite nice when I asked him to move the seat up a bit, as his head was now in my nose. He replied, “I’ll move it now, but when the person in front of me reclines, I’m coming back.” I replied, “thank you,” though I meant, “thanks for nothing, schmuck.” He remained fully reclined for 4 hours. It was most awful because that required me to kick his seat on purpose for 4 hours, a tiring endeavor.

My larger point is this: Flying is frustrating, I know. Planes have shrunk, on many airlines (though not Continental) staff is surly. Other passengers are frustrated and snippy. All I ask is this: Let’s have a little understanding. On a full flight on an aircraft with 31 inches of pitch, please don’t recline all the way. When you see someone struggling putting a bag into the overhead bin, please help them. Please allow the row ahead of you to disembark before you. Please say “please” and “thank you” to the flight attendants when they offer you food. Please do not freak out if you find somebody in your assigned seat—it may be the person’s mix up, it may be the airline’s. I don’t know. But I do know that yelling at the flight attendant will not help matters. And finally, if you see a family that is split up, please offer to move so a child can sit next to his parent.

Improving the flying experience rests as much with us, the passengers, as it does with the airline. Let’s stop acting like class bullies when we fly.

And finally, an open letter to the baby in 11D on yesterday’s flight:

Dear Baby,

I’m begging you. Stop crying. Seriously. I’m on my hands and knees right now. Please. Begging. Stop. The. Crying.


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  1. Have you tried the knee defender? Supposedly it works, though I haven’t tried it myself ( Cheers.

  2. If you think that 31 inches is too cramped, maybe you should look for an airline that offers more legroom. Airlines are putting passengers in rabbit hutches because the majority of U.S. air passengers have made it clear: ticket price is more important than legroom. If you’re willing to pay more for additional legroom, I assume there’s a carrier willing to meet that need.

    I wouldn’t know. Not only can the guy in front of me recline as much as he wants, I’d hold the crying baby in my lap for the whole flight if it would save me money.

  3. American has pretty good leg room compared to the others (one reason why I tried to avoid any other airlines, resulting in a nice Platinum Exec card). I’m 6’2″ with very long legs, so I notice these things.

    I 100% agree that most of the problems are due to the passengers being rude to each other – and for some odd reason – the more you fly, the nicer you are about it.

    On the other hand, my worst experience was when I had to deal with a crying baby – my own. Nothing makes you feel worse then knowing that your kid is causing everyone else to be miserable and there is not a thing to do about it. Every minute takes an hour.