Loyalty, TSA, and legroom woes: Some people just know how to drive you crazy

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Welcome to Hell (Photo: Bert Van Wijk/iStockphoto)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on December 10, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, American, Continental, frequent flyer, fuel, JetBlue, Korean Air, legroom, low-cost airline, Midwest Airlines, Molly Feltner, onboard flight entertainment, security, Southwest.

Higher prices, poor customer service, and too many delays were your biggest issues with air travel this year, but you also let us know you're unhappy with a number of other issues. Difficulty redeeming miles for award seats, run-ins with airport security, and uncomfortable coach seating were among your other big complaints.

Frequent flyer gripes

Award seats continued their evolution into something of an endangered species in 2007. Overall, respondents found it harder to use (34%) their frequent flyer miles for award seats this year over last, compared to those who found it the same (23%) or better (7%) than 2006 (36% said they had no opinion). And, according to your comments, some of you even gave up on your loyalty programs altogether:

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    "I was a loyal customer to American, but after one very trying flight, I resigned my status and pulled my points."

    "I don't think the major airlines think about customer goodwill at all when they tighten up award availability and comfort."

    "It's really hard to get frequent flyer seats with the [base requirement] amount of miles."

Airport security trauma

Long lines, the continued ban on most liquids and gels, and confusion about the latest security rules on the part of passengers—and TSA personnel—continued to cause tempers to flare this year:

    "The security people can get very worked up over incidental things that should be looked at and passed, but they cannot detect a real threat. There are too many checks by their own people where they pass weapons and bomb-like objects, but then [airport personal] go crazy over a small knife or pair of scissors. This, even though their own supervisors know that many of these items are now OK to carry."

    "Security personnel are extremely rude and inefficient in many airports."

    "I have a knee replacement. Why can't I get profiled [by the TSA] so I don't have to be felt all over."

    "Main issue—lack of help from the TSA when traveling with small children. They expect you to be able to get through security with ease when you're traveling with a stroller and two little ones and all the items you need to pack in event of being stranded."

Seating crunch

Cramped coach seating has long been at the top of many passengers complaints against the airlines. However, in years past, you could sometimes get lucky and sit next to an empty seat, giving you more space to spread out. Not so in 2007. With many flights flying close to full, many of you found little to no wiggle room left in economy:

    "We have to travel coach and are appalled at the increasing discomfort on long flights as seat pitch—even to China—gets tighter and tighter."

    "Seats are very uncomfortable and there's not enough leg room—and I am only five foot two!"

    "Seats are getting more uncomfortable. Some airlines are starting to do away with pillows and blankets—very big mistake. I depend on those to help make my trip more comfortable."

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