I fly a lot of miles on a lot of airlines; my best estimate is that I have boarded more than 2,500 different flights over the years. That’s more than the average pilot. I recommend it. There are those who do not like to use airlines.

They say it is crowded and uncomfortable. That is true; however, it is the safest, and usually the cheapest, quickest way to get somewhere. You just can’t expect them to treat you like a customer at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

However, as airlines merge with themselves to increase their destinations while increasing their competition, you can watch their steady but stealthy progress to wring you out of your last buck.

If you are fortunate enough to fly in big jet planes … anything that starts with a seven, you are ahead of the game. They have room in the overhead for your stuff. You could actually sit in the middle seat between two average humans and be semi-comfortable.

On these bigger jets, people checked their baggage. Then King Midas, Scrooge and Cinderella’s ugly sister realized that some people actually enjoyed flying. “We can’t have that!” cried the Wicked Witch of the Turbulence. So they started charging to check a bag, $25 to $50 each way. I never check my bag.


This forced travelers to try and put all their baggage in the roomy overhead space (a design flaw the airlines realized too late). I predict soon they will start charging for all bags put anywhere.

It will follow with a charge for your ID, the change in your pocket, your shoes and the book or newspaper you bring on board. There will then become a surcharge on thick socks, hats, coats and laptops. I don’t have a laptop.

Eventually seats will become optional. Most will ride in the baggage section. But I don’t care. I will take all the abuse they throw at me. And it will get worse.

The more mergers, the tighter the seating, the less selection … I can envision a flight attendant with rubber gloves and an eyedropper walking down the aisle feeding those passengers who sit up straight, tip their heads back like baby robins and are given exactly 3 ounces of a choice of red, yellow or green flavored chemical. But you can’t stop me from flying.

I have 350,000 flight miles on one of the big airlines, but since I didn’t make the cut this year, I am assigned the seat across from the toilet with blue water and board in Zone 14. You can’t intimidate me.

I have watched the boarding procedure change over the years with no obvious logic. They used to allow those who sat farthest back to board first. Now it appears that they select seats by drawing numbers like a bingo game. It makes you wince to watch the process.

The dainty, the frightened, the linebacker coming down the aisle, the homeless person pushing a shopping cart, the person who is bringing her harp on board, the multitude trying to stuff turkey dinners, a cavalry saddle and a 12-foot fly rod into the overhead.

They could take a lesson from any cattle hauler. He loads the ones getting off last in the front of the trailer next to the cab. Duh. Too complicated, I guess. I’ll sit anywhere. Give me the middle seat between two sumo wrestlers.

I understand they are considering allowing cell phone service during the flight. I can predict multiple felonies, frenzied savaging, wall climbing and at least one WWE RAW rassling attack every time a tinging dinging ringtone chimes in. I say put the cell phone users and smokers together in the baggage section. I don’t care, just let me on. PD