airplaneAs I sat with my kids on the floor of our flight’s waiting area, I wondered how it got to this. How the airline industry abandoned traveling families. We travel often, and in groups. We’re loyal. We are willing to spend a lot of money. When we have a good experience, we tell everyone. That sounds like a good customer to me.

But I suppose, in the airlines’ eyes, we’re undesirable. Why else would they do so little to woo our business or accommodate us? They squeeze us (and our strollers) into flight waiting areas equipped to hold only ¼ of the passengers on the always-full flight. They hit us with add-on fees that unfairly punish us (want to sit together? Fee. Have more than one carry-on? Fee. Want something to drink on board? Fee.).

If they let us sit together, we’re seated in the back rows of the plane. And many airlines don’t let us “pre-board”  anymore, saving that “perk” for their million-mile elite, plus, gold, super-dee-duper business traveler.

I’m sick of being treated like a second class citizen by the airlines because I only fly 4-5 times a year. Does anyone else feel this way?

I vented about this topic in a recent Reuters story (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/04/uk-travel-airlines-fees-idUSLNE85301D20120604), and in a blog last year https://www.travelingmom.com/blogs/4589-the-back-of-the-plane-blues-sitting-in-qlast-classq.html

But I’m still riled up about it. 

We might leave behind more crumbs behind than your average traveler, but family travelers are not cheapskates. I just spent $1,300 to fly four people round trip from Chicago to Denver (and that was without checking luggage or buying in-flight water). And while there is the occasional obnoxious kid or parent on a flight, I’d argue that 99 percent of families behave well on planes, sitting quietly hypnotized by electronic screens like everyone else.

I can only come up with one reason why the airlines mistreat us: BECAUSE THEY CAN.

They don’t make an effort to win over families because they don’t have to. They have us right where they want us. They know working and schedule-juggling moms and dads don’t have time to drive to their destinations. We can not add 1-3 days on each side of a trip just to get back and forth.

Sadly, we need the airlines more than they need us. So until the great American road trip makes a comeback, I guess it’s take it or leave it. Or, is it time to rediscover train travel?