The airline industry needs to take a good look at itself. We are all well aware that the cost of fuel has risen dramatically and the TSA shadow looms over us as we are herded through the body x ray machines and are humiliated as we are selected to be singled out for a random pat down while standing shoeless and beltless as equally frustrated and irritated onlookers gape at us, secretly smirking with delight that they not only have moved a whole two spaces ahead of us, but silently rejoicing that they were not the one selected to step out of line. As we feel the electronic wand brush against our personal body parts, the urge to scream, "enough already!" is almost too much to suppress. Once past the iron gate, the fun is nowhere close to being over. The sheep herder with the microphone behind the desk at the gate barks out the commands to the privileged platinum, gold, silver, copper, tin level flyers as everyone else waits patiently for groups 1, 2, and 3, or heaven forbid, group 4 to be allowed to walk into the loading tube, only then to then, stand in yet the same line re-shuffled and once again put in our place. (Side Note before I forget): Never ask the person next to you what they paid for their ticket. One of you will end up feeling ripped off.)
The shuffling continues as you observe "that guy" moving closer to the aircraft while loaded down like a cheap pack mule on a pioneer expedition, while you wonder why you bothered to leave your full set of encyclopedia back home instead of packing them in your carry on. (Encyclopedia, that is what the pre-Internet www used to look like, in print)
The big question that begs to be asked to those in charge of such things is, why, in all sense of order and common sense, don't they load the plane from the rear first? I mean, those who are unfortunate enough already to have to sit in the rows higher than 30 (like me, on my most recent adventure, or a bargain or points flyer) should be given some small token of courtesy since we are already stuck back there with the smell of burned coffee, the "public bathrooms" and the infernal Olympic qualifying Ice Chipping National Competition that seem to always be taking place prior to and after takeoff, sounding like an audition for an ice pick murderer's festival. As for the boarding process... naturally, the first class passengers would still have to board ahead of everyone else, otherwise how could they sit there with the "Don't you wish you were me?" smug look as us commoners pass through with our heads hung low in miserable shame and envy that we are about to be shoehorned into a seat sans the coveted "additional legroom" (that comes at a premium, of course.)
Boarding from the rear to the forward would eliminate the situation of the obligatory traveler who blocks the aisle at any given low numbered row to put their entire life's possessions in the overhead bin. I'm referring to "That guy" of course.
But wait, there's more. Please tell me that I'm not the only one who seems to become invisible immediately after sitting down. I can't count the number of times that I have been looked at directly, but apparently not seen when it comes to getting a beverage or a coffee. Time after time, the person directly behind me or immediately across the aisle is already on their second round of something when I am just hoping to be acknowledged. Is that too much to ask? All too often, apparently it is.
This brings up the sensitive topic of the folks who drive the drink cart up and down the aisle like a sadistic runaway battering ram being threaded through a needle. They have a magnificent honing device on the cart that always finds my elbow... even when I'm in a window seat, (just kidding). The cache of soft drinks and juices are treated like the national treasure, and are dispensed with a sense of selective entitlement.
My latest experience in a long list of airline customer service disappointments came on a flight to San Diego, where the flight attendant failed on 3 passes by to ask if I would like anything. Later as I sucked on a piece of candy that I dug out of my back pocket, I accidentally swallowed it and almost choked. After coughing for almost 5 minutes and being passed by a fourth and fifth time, I waved down an inattentive attendant to gaspingly ask for a glass of water. In no great hurry, it finally arrived. At last... proof of acknowledgment that I was actually on the plane. A short-lived situation, however, since an hour or so later in the flight, the same two cart pushers served the folks across the aisle, the row in front of me and the row behind me, never once glancing at me. This situation coupled with the pent up energy from the TSA body search from hours earlier, finally tested my last nerve as I burst out with a rather robustly amplified, "excuse me" to try to get the attention of one of the keepers of the drink wagon. May I please get a ginger ale? I asked rather politely, or so I thought. As it was delivered I was told that there was no reason to raise my voice. I silently disagreed with a shake of my head. I said a polite thank you when I was handed 2 oz of Ginger Ale in a cup overflowing with ice, and got no response. This brings me to my final point. There are too many people who have done this job long enough who would better serve the public by retiring. There, I said it. I so wanted to say, "Excuse me, but if you really hate your job that much, maybe it's time to give it up?" but of course, I didn't. After all, there were still two hours left in the flight and who knows, I may choke again and have to plead for something else and there was still a whole lot of time to be ignored yet again.