Police Wrestle With Spirit Airlines Passengers Angered Over Flight Cancellation1:25
Chaos erupted at Florida?s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport as angry passengers confronted airport and security staff over a cancelled Spirit Airlines flight on May 8. Video shared on social media showed the angry scenes at the Spirit Terminal and Broward County Sheriff?s Department officers detaining passengers. The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport?s website confirms that Spirit Airlines Flight 710 to New York LaGuardia was cancelled. Credit: Jary Romero via Storyful
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AUSTRALIANS are generally good sports when it comes to air travel. Forced to take long-haul flights if we want to go anywhere overseas except New Zealand, Indonesia or a handful of South Pacific islands, we’re used to getting on a flight, sucking it up and making our way through the in-flight movie library or a George R.R. Martin book.
But lately the international airline industry is testing our patience and goodwill.
As avid world travellers, you can bet at least one Australian has been affected by the more than 300 Spirit Airlines flights cancelled in North America in May alone, which led to rioting and arrests at a Florida airport this week.
Or reluctantly booked an American Airlines new “basic economy fare”, a class somehow even lower than ecomony, where a passenger doesn’t get access to the overhead luggage space.
Or been given nothing to eat but a single banana on a nine-hour flight.
One Australian man is suing American Airlines claiming he suffered permanent injuries after being squashed between two obese passengers on a 14-hour flight from Sydney to Los Angeles.
But given some of the outrageous and violent incidents that have happened on flights recently he might think himself lucky. One man punched another on a flight leaving Tokyo, a scorpion fell on someone’s head during a United Airlines flight to Canada, and incredibly that’s not the worst thing that’s happened to someone on a United flight lately.
In a case that got worldwide attention, Dr David Dao was brutally dragged off a flight after he refused to give up his seat for a staff member, leaving him with lost teeth and a broken nose.
So is it any wonder that as airlines suffer through PR disasters and check-in lines and plane cabins become MMA fighting rings that train travel is cool again?
WHY TRAIN TRAVEL BEATS FLYING
Hotel and travel company Belmond is trying to lure travellers to Peru away from domestic flights.
They just launched the Andean Explorer, a luxury sleeper train that travels from Cusco to Lake Titicaca and Arequipa. It holds up to 40 guests who stay in private rooms complete with ensuite, and enjoy perks including fine dining, an on-board library and a spa carriage, as well as views of the Andes out the window.
Another luxury train launched this month is the Shiki-shima in Japan, a 34-passenger overnight train running from Tokyo to Hokkaido. With private bedrooms, food prepared by Michelin star chefs, a traditional wooden bath, a piano room, fireplace and an observation car, it looks even better than flying business class.
Train travel has also seen a rise in popularity in the US, which isn’t so surprising given America has been where the most air travel horror stories seem to be happening.
Travel blogger Derek Low’s post about travelling across the States by train went viral after he shared how he journeyed from San Francisco to New York by rail for just $US213, taking in views of wild landscapes on the way, including the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
But it’s not just the affordable price of Low’s adventure that got people’s attention. Train passengers enjoy more space and a less stressful security and boarding process compared to a flight, which sounds refreshing after the cattle herding experience endured by most economy air passengers these days.
Obviously going by train instead of a plane is a lot slower, but for an increasing number of travellers that’s part of the appeal. ‘Slow travel’, also dubbed ‘transformative travel’ is one of the key tourism trends for 2017.
A growing number of people are moving away from The Amazing Race-style trips that involve ticking off as many places as possible, and instead are using holidays to slow down, recharge and reflect, away from the busyness of everyday life and our never-ending emails and Facebook notifications.
Intrepid Travel recently started offering specialised Digital Detox itineraries, where travellers are encouraged and expected to unplug by not using mobile phones or social media for the entire trip.
If that sounds too extreme (did you even go on a holiday if you don’t brag about it on social media?), choosing a rail journey over a flight (once you reach your destination country) could be the perfect way to unwind.
You can zone out while watching the scenery of an unfamiliar country out the window, instead of just clouds, clouds and more clouds. Not to mention if you’re physically assaulted or stung by a potentially lethal animal species falling down from the overhead compartment, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get off.