An informative, revealing examination of the business of flying.
Aviation consultant Gerchick, former chief counsel for the Federal Aviation Administration, pulls no punches in this highly researched exposé on the state of air travel today. He probes behind the scenes to give readers a critical and edifying take on aviation, answering a variety of questions: e.g., Why was free food eliminated from flights? Why were baggage fees adopted? What do pilots really do behind that locked cockpit door when the plane is on autopilot? Gerchick distinguishes what's not worth worrying about when flying—that the airplane will break or turbulence will cause it to crash, that safety regulations are lax—from what is: The air traffic controller or pilot could indeed be asleep, it's true that small commuter planes are not as safe as large commercial flights, and birds in the flight path are a perennial problem. He addresses many other issues, as well, explaining the endless fare wars among airlines and the reduction in comfort levels for economy-class passengers, assessing whether the perks of flying first or business class are worth the steep sticker prices. An illuminating and occasionally disgusting chapter on what can make an airline passenger sick will have many readers reaching for the hand sanitizer. Gerchick also discusses frequent flyer miles, why the FAA is so slow to make changes in regulations, and what that confirmation code tells the pilot and flight attendants about who you are. It affects "the way you're treated and the service you get," he explains, "advertising to everyone where you stand in the airline's pecking order." Frequent fliers and once-a-year vacationers alike will benefit from the insights Gerchick provides on an industry that only gets more congested and expensive as the years progress.
A thorough disclosure on today's airlines and the passengers who use them—best read while still on the ground.