List of things an airline can get rid of

Christopher Elliot of The Travel Critic recently wrote a tongue in cheek and halfway serious post about other ways airlines might save money.

The tenor of the piece, I think, reflects the sad state several airlines have stooped to in their penny pinching ways. Consider the latest Continental Airlines’ venture that Jeffery posted about this past week. Personally, I think reducing the size of carry-on luggage is a crappy idea.

But, I’m one of those people who eyed with interest the cargo pants that Benny Lewis wore in his video on how to pack for a 5-day trip with only a carry-on bag. No, I’m not one of those people who take up more room than my fair share. Plus, I’m not that big, so why not let me have those 6-inches of carry-on space that Continental wants to take away?

But, back to Elliot’s ideas. Here’s what he suggests might be dumped.

  • The bathroom that doesn’t work. As he’s noticed, several planes that he has been on have at least one broken toilet. Get rid of that bathroom. Weight saved.
  • Duty free carts. Who needs to buy that stuff on board a flight anyway? But, as Elliot points out, the carts do make the airlines money.
  • Federal air marshals since they are not particularly cost effective at saving lives –and they fly for free
  • In-flight magazines. (No, no, no Elliot. I NEED in-flight magazines. I read them from cover to cover.)
  • A flight attendant. (Sorry, Heather)
  • A pilot. (Sorry, Ken)
  • XL passengers. Elliot is one of those. He points out that he’s tall and lanky so he poses a bit of a problem when it comes to getting him to fit in the space that he is allotted.

Elliot is not totally serious about this list, but he does have a point about how annoyed a person can feel when, yet again, there’s another change that may or may not make that much of a difference to airline economics. If people are disgruntled and unhappy consumers, that creates a problem, and he sees how flying is on its way to becoming a prison sentence.

For Elliot’s reasons about why a pilot and a flight attendant could be dumped, check out his post.

If you look at René Ehrhardt photo, surely you can find something else to add to Elliot’s list.

Here are some things the airlines probably WISH they’d gotten rid of!

Ciudad del Este – South America’s black market hotspot

The tiny country of Paraguay doesn’t often pop up on the “must-see” list for those traveling to South America. Sitting landlocked between Argentina to the south, Bolivia to the west and Brazil to the north and east, Paraguay has been described as “the forgotten country of Latin America.” But Paraguay has nevertheless attracted quite a bit of attention lately, less for tourism than because it is an important hub in the global smuggling trade.

A vast bazaar of illegal weapons, counterfeit goods and illicit substances is spread out for sale in the markets of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay’s smuggling capital. The city is conveniently located at the convergence of the borders of three countries (Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay), making it the ideal transit point for tax free and often illegal goods headed to all points beyond. GOOD magazine has an interesting profile on Ciudad del Este in its most recent issue. Author Sacha Feinman dives into the city’s back alleys and sidestreets, where he discovers everything from AK-47’s to Montblanc pens to bricks of marijuana can be easily obtained for purchase. Feinman also befriends some of Ciudad del Este’s many porters-for-hire, who package illicit goods and carry them over the city’s 1,600-foot “Friendship Bridge” to neighboring Brazil. Instead of crossing through customs, the men drop their packages off the side to the riverbank below, where waiting teenagers sort through the packages for distribution. So much for filling out that customs form…

As long as the Paraguayan and Brazilian authorities continue to turn a blind eye to the thriving smuggling practice, Paraguay’s black markets will continue to thrive. For a country that doesn’t see much tourism (or other industry for that matter) it seems to be as much an economic necessity as it is a fact of life. Do exercise caution if you’re even considering a visit. Aside from all the petty lawlessness, Wikitravel warns that Paraguay is currently experiencing its worst outbreak of Yellow Fever in over 60 years. Yikes.

Most Ridiculous Stuff to Buy from SkyMall Catalogs

If there is one vivid sign that the Western civilization is crumbling, it must be the annoying in-flight catalogs. Have you ever paged through those things? I know Justin has. I don’t care how bored you were stuck in an uncomfortable seat, please explain to me why anyone would actually buy that crap.

I appreciate the fact that the genius of America’s best and brightest inventors is now within reach in the seat pocket in front of you but who honestly wants to “pilot the world’s first flying winged robot with The WowWee remote-controlled dragonfly” for $49,95? Or the runaway alarm clock that rolls away and hides when you hit its snooze button? The radio frequency golf ball finder? The wireless speaker lamp? The million-germ-eliminating travel toothbrush sanitizer? I could go on but I don’t want to give it all away. Next time you fly, you can entertain yourself for hours.

These catalogs are actually a very educational source of cultural insight for tourists traveling to the US. Sure, hit them right up with the endless opportunities to shop before they even land in the land of plenty. Even if they resist, they will at least understand why Americans need big houses. I mean, you can’t possibly fit “Basho the Sumo Wrestler” Sculpture and Glass-Topped Table in a one-bedroom apartment now, could you.