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by Nicole Carvalho, staff writer

After the September 11th terrorist attacks on America, the airline industry changed dramatically for both consumers and airline employees, forcing many airlines to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, it was very difficult to fly. No longer could passengers arrive at the gate just minutes before departure, accompanied by loved ones who were there to bid them adieu. Instead, they had to arrive a minimum of 90 minutes early with all of the goodbyes already done at the check-in stands.

If that was not bad enough, passengers were held in long lines at the security check points, under scrutiny, with machine-gun armed National Guard soldiers pouring through the contents of their makeup bags and other personal belongings. All of this instilled fear in the American public, as if we were not afraid enough!

Here we are more than four years later, and things have gotten a little better in the airline industry.
Most people feel a little safer when it comes to getting on an airplane. The Transportation Security Administration has taken over, standardizing check-in procedures at airports across the country and have made flying as a whole a little more comfortable.

Airlines are slowly finding their way out of bankruptcy protection and people are flying again, with statistics saying both domestic and international travel are on the rise.

Low budget carriers such as America West, JetBlue, Ted, by United Airlines, and Song, Delta’s low budget carrier have found their way into the airline marketplace with favorable results, both financially as well as for consumers.

Still, gone are the days when meals were included in the fare of a ticket. Gone are the days when people waited at the gates in anticipation of an exciting and comfortable airplane ride, and gone are the days when flying was fun!

The stewardess in the short dress, saying coffee, tea, or peanuts?, has been replace by the flight attendant, most often in a conservative almost corporate-looking uniform, who at this point is just happy to get the airplane off the ground—and back on the ground for that matter, on time. With worry about terrorist threats, on-time departures, and whether they are going to receive their next paycheck, they don’t have time to make the customer happy. In fact, riding in coach class is almost comparable to riding on a Greyhound bus where they pack people in like sardines and luxury is the farthest thing from anyone’s mind.

Travel has become a way of life for most of us, especially living on an island as far removed as Hawai‘i. We have to fly if we want to get anywhere, and we have to accept and abide by the changes in the airline industry, whether we like them or not.

The airline world is now a stiff, stoic, almost sterile, and definitely unfriendly environment—for our own protection of course.


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