Why is traveling the most painful part of travel?

Salt Lake City. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

RAPID CITY, South Dakota — If you go to pretty much any railroad museum, you can probably learn about rail travel’s “glory days.” It’s an era that maybe never existed, but we look backward and lament about this era.

The same may be true about flying.

Thirty years ago, you could sit on a smoke-filled plane and eat bad airline food. Today, there is no smoke, but the pathetic excuse for airline food remains.

It seems like with all the technology in the world, we could figure out how to improve the flying experience. Maybe it costs too much money; perhaps the flying public doesn’t care.

What is it with the fundamental element of traveling? Why does that have to be a bad experience?

It began in Atlanta with a TSA agent who decided he didn’t like my face mask. It was a homemade one. He didn’t say it was illegal or inappropriate. He didn’t like it and didn’t think it was reliable.

Of course, this is the same guy who decided to pull down his face mask so he could shout instructions to everyone waiting to pass through security.

I don’t think Chief Superspreader has any room to criticize the masks of passengers. How many droplets did he spread shouting instructions?

But can you say something? No, Chief Superspreader will detain you and prevent you from boarding. Why? Because he can, and that’s the problem with travel today.

From the airports to the airlines to the hotels, so much of the travel experience is disappointing. We’ve conditioned ourselves to expect a bad experience, so we rejoice when we encounter a mediocre one.

A few years ago, we booked a hotel in Maui through Hotels.com. It seems simple enough, but no one bothered to disclose that the hotel was undergoing an extensive renovation. I don’t mean a paint job; I mean jackhammers, banging on the walls and regular routes closed.

We complained to the hotel. They didn’t care. We complained to Hotels.com; after a while, they offered a small credit.

The problem is no one cares. The hotel and the booking company already had our money, so what are we going to do? Not come back?

Maybe, but many companies do not have a long-term vision. They balanced their books today, so they don’t care about what we might do tomorrow. Besides, they know their competition is likely just as bad.

Look, people travel to step away from the world. They’re looking for an escape. Given everything going on right now, we could use an escape.

Why can’t the travel companies — the airlines, hotels and booking companies — embrace that? It’ll make the experience better for everyone.

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About Todd DeFeo 1269 Articles
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is the owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and Railfanning.org.