Much has changed in the culture of air travel in the years that I’ve been traveling. It has become much more affordable. In 1970 i simply would not have been able to fly to Nepal without a very major dent being formed in my yearly income. It would have been huge for me. While the total adventure
still is in many ways, the flight is now $1200 round trip. I can do that. Much in the way that you can now find $39 tickets to Las Vegas or $99 flights to Orlando, the cost of our everyday air travel has become much lower, We now expect it and scan the web from the comforts of our home for the cheapest tickets out there. Companies like Expedia and Travelocity have sprung up by doing just that for us. We no longer are suspicious about traveling with these second party tickets. It is the way of our times and the convenience of the power of technology.
However, these changes have not come without trade-offs. The numbers of flights have shrunk just as the space we have to sit on has followed suit. Flights are generally always full and in fact usually oversold. You have to pay for putting a bag on the plane and more for the second bag if it is even allowed. Overhead bags have now become a target of airlines as well. Choices of seat location can command more than a few dollars without even being in first class. There are many more places we can go with this.
Most of all I think it is the relationship between the customer and the airline that has changed. We as passengers no longer have the respect of the airlines and that is reflected in the total lack of customer service that is offered. Yes, flying has become more of a buyer’s beware culture. All of the things that once would have been totally not acceptable have now become commonplace. Flight cancellations, last minute time and gate changes, unadvertised baggage restrictions, and much more are now just simply part of flying. Almost makes you want to just stay home.
Tomorrow morning I am leaving for Nepal from Thunder Bay with my good friend, Lonnie Dupre. World renowned Arctic explorer and now also conqueror of Denali in the heart of the winter, Lonnie has invited me to join him and two fellow mountaineers, Elias and Bridget from Colorado, for an expedition to check out an unclimbed peak in the Khumbu region of Nepal. Named in 2013 in honor of the famed Nepalese climber, Tenzing Norgay, this peak is located near Cho Oyu, an 8000 meter mountain which is about 20 kilometers from Everest, the mother of all mountains in this world.
Yesterday we found out that our return flights have been cancelled. That’s it. Just cancelled. No “here is your new itinerary” but just gone with no alternative offered. This is the way of modern travel.
We are going anyway. Have to figure it out as we move along.