July 26, 2023
My first airline trip of the New Year ended like the last one of the previous year: in a middle seat of a fully loaded plane fighting a respiratory bug I picked up the day before on the flight out. Since my only known super power is killing time in airports I had lots of opportunity to observe my fellow travelers and reflect on the scene around me. Empty seats are very rare and every segment with this major carrier they offered big credits for volunteers willing to wait for the next flight to that destination. How do people over my height even fit in the seats as currently configured? Almost as rare as an empty seat was an empty overhead compartment. People sure take a lot of stuff with them when they travel. Add in winter coats and you have a serious gate check logjam. Since I always get to sit in steerage my backpack ends up in that pile at the end of the jet way frequently. So far everything has made it to the proper destination in a reasonable time, so I congratulate the airlines on their improved baggage handling systems. The ground and flight crews seem to be in good moods too. Full planes and low fuel prices must be helping the balance sheets so perhaps the associates are feeling a bit more secure in their futures. Wouldn’t it be good if all of us had full order books and lower costs? Unfortunately my enjoyment of low gas prices is tempered by the knowledge that our domestic drilling, pumping, and refining operations are hurting from low prices. Less activity means less gears needed. Hopefully demand for cars and construction goods will remain strong and keep production high in those industry sectors. We have a wonderfully diverse economy and it is no longer so energy-dependent, according to the pundits. Let’s hope they are right.