Travel: Lose Your Cares, Luggage, Sanity

generic travel flight delay delayed board CBS/iStockphoto

For the thousands of passengers who spent hours stuck on runways, on crowded planes, staring at signs that quickly flashed from "on time" to "delayed" to "cancelled," 2007, was the year that time stood still.

This was the year air rage became part of the traveling lexicon and being successfully reunited with one's luggage became more wishful thinking then an expected occurrence. Once you were unsure if the airlines would search your bags for contraband contact lens solution. Now your too-sexy clothes may get you booted off a plane.

And it wasn't just the airlines who were behaving badly. According to the The Wall Street Journal, American Airlines told the Transportation Security Administration in July that a passenger on a flight to New York had slapped a flight attendant when the plane was ordered emptied in Miami after bad weather kept the flight from leaving.

"Abnormal, aberrant or abusive behavior in the context of the air-travel experience" is back with a vengeance, Andrew Thomas, an assistant professor of business at the University of Akron, who has written books about air rage and aviation "insecurity," told the Journal.

More than 1 million pieces of luggage were lost, damaged, delayed or pilfered by U.S. airlines from May to July, according to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, reports the Washington Post.

So many bags are getting separated from their owners, the airlines are running out of places to put them, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes. This July was the worst on record for mishandled bags. Nearly eight of every 1,000 bags were lost, damaged or stolen, compared to 6.5 per thousand last July.

The year started out bad and only got worse.

The airline industry's on-time performance in the first seven months of 2007 was its worst since comparable data began being collected in 1995, according to the government. In July, the most recent month for which data are available, 20 carriers reported an on-time arrival rate of 69.8 percent, down from 73.7 percent a year earlier.

Last Dec. 29, lightning storms and a tornado warning shut down the Dallas-Fort Worth airport several times causing American Airlines to divert more than 100 flights and stranding many of those passengers on board aircraft waiting to take off for as long as nine hours.

Then, a harsh winter storm back in February triggered hundreds of flight delays. JetBlue suffered a terrible blow to its customer-friendly public image when ticket holders were stuck on the tarmac for nearly 11 hours. The airline weathered the storm but not before the incident sparked a new wave of consumer advocates and proposed guidelines that ideally guarantee the weary traveler "clean sanitary facilities, regardless of class of service" and truthful information regarding delays and flight status.

  • CBSNews

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