Since the TSA stepped in and the airlines went bust, hating flying has become practically a national pastime. But there is some merit to this reaction: In many ways, air travel quality has been steadily deteriorating. Below, six ways flying is actually getting worse.
1. New Fees. Consumer Reports recently found that airlines collected $7.8 billion in 2009 in additional fees, a 42 percent increase from 2008. These fees are for everything from booking your ticket by phone ($20 on Continental) to checking luggage ($25 for the first checked bag on American). United charges you a whopping $50 "ticket handling fee" for paper tickets. Starting in August, Spirit will charge you $20 for your second carry-on. No wonder ticket fares are relatively low... they're making up for it with fees.
2. TSA/Security. While it's been shown many times that the TSA's guidelines on liquids, containers, and Ziploc baggies haven't stopped dangerous materials getting through, passengers must still display belongings and take off shoes and coats before agents. But wait, it gets better. Now that full-body scanners are being deployed in dozens of airports nationwide, TSA doesn't just look through your stuff: It looks through your clothes, too. Underneath the terminal, meanwhile, only 75 percent of cargo traveling on passenger planes is required to be scanned.
3. The Lists. The TSA's mysterious "No-Fly" list includes tens of thousands of travelers. According to the TSA, the No-Fly list "keeps known terrorists off planes," even if those "terrorists" are dead, senators, billionaires, or adorable six-year-old girls. Separate from the No-Fly list is the FBI's Terrorist Screening Database, which airlines use to screen for terrorists. The ACLU calculates there are about 1 million fliers on it, domestic and international. As the lists continue to bloat, it makes finding the real terrorists even harder. Delayed updates, faulty information, and mistakes in judgment have agencies stopping Nelson Mandela while Faisal Shahzad boarded a flight to Dubai and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a plane while on a US visa.