Thursday, September 20, 2007

Does The Military Travel Better?

Writer Robert D. Kaplan, who has traveled all over the world, writes that given the sorry state of economy-class air travel, especially within the United States, flying with the military is a much more pleasant experience—sort of.

You see, military air travel isn’t all that bad.

Given the trend toward dog food and bad wine on economy class, MREs may, on some future morrow, actually constitute an improvement. Indeed, on one Russian military flight I was served sausage, black bread, and vodka. (OK, the pilot was drinking too, and one of the plane’s doors didn’t close properly, but you can’t have everything.)

Retrieving your luggage after each military flight can constitute an intense physical experience, but because you personally put your luggage on the pallet and watch the pallet slide into the back of the C-130, at least you know your luggage is flying with you. The result: People actually check in their luggage, and they don’t try to get away with everything short of surfboards as carry-on. Wouldn’t that be an improvement?
I hate air travel and everything associated with it. For example, I flew to Las Vegas a few weeks ago for training, and had the unfortunate chance of flying with American Airlines. I know the airline business does not pay well, but there’s no reason for employees to be surly, which, of course, they were. It’s not like they actually do anything besides taking and retrieving my luggage from the airplane. After all, I checked-in by myself, printed my own boarding pass, stood in security, boarded the plane, took my seat and minded my own damn business. They gave me my one glass (and only one!) of a liquid of my choice. But not all airlines air equal.

Continental Airlines, which I used to fly to Mexico for vacation, was a breath of fresh air. They are everything American Airlines is not. For one thing, they serve food! I was surprised to be given breakfast, lunch and dinner going to and fro Mexico. And they served drinks not once but twice. But I agree with Kaplan on one thing, though: air travel is steadily getting worse.