Airlines have changed a lot over the years. Heightened security measures aside, the world of air travel has changed dramatically. With budget cuts and rising fuel costs, airlines have removed many of the perks associated with flying. In an effort to pay tribute to all that has been lost, we’ve come up with a list of 8 air travel perks that used to be commonplace and have since disappeared. As you scroll down the list, try not to become misty eyed at the bygone era of in-flight amenities.
1. In-flight Meals
Continental was the last major domestic airline to give away free meals to economy passengers flying under six hours, but they only held out until 2010. Like it or not, when Continental Airlines, which had just merged with United, stopped serving free in-flight meals, it was the end of an era. Remember purchasing your ticket and playing that little gambling game of picking the "vegetarian" or "meat" choice for your meal? You usually wound up regretting the "meat" choice, but sometimes you decided to live on the edge. Well, that fun game of in-flight meal Russian roulette is long gone. It's now replaced with overpriced boxed sandwiches that can only be purchased with a credit card.
2. Sitting Together
Remember when you could sit with the person you were traveling with? Those were the days. Since 2011, American, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines and United Airlines, in an attempt to boost revenue, increased the number of coach seats that require an extra fee to sit there. That means that if you don't want to pay an extra $25 or $50 per seat for adjacent seats, you're flying solo.
On many airlines, including JetBlue and US Airways, make sure you bring an extra sweater. If you wind up shivering during your air-conditioned flight, you are straight out of luck. That is, unless you have $8 to pay for a plastic-wrapped felt blanket. Luckily, there are still a limited number of carriers that give away blankets to its freezing passengers, but they are few and far between.
It's hard to call drinking water an in-flight "perk," but unfortunately that "perk" is fast disappearing. For example, Spirit Airlines now charges $3 for a bottle of water. On the bright side, the airline offers its passengers ice at no charge. Hopefully we'll never be reduced to calling ice a "perk."
5. Pre-boarding for Small Children
While it's made fewer headlines than many of the other disappearing amenities on our list, American and Delta Airlines have quietly phased out the pre-boarding call for families with small children. Next time you go to the airport, listen for the call for families with small children to board early. You won't hear it. Instead you'll get the early boarding call for first-class customers and elite fliers. Bye bye baby.
6. Flying Standby
For the adventurous, low-budget traveler, the loss of standby represents the end of an era. It used to be that instead of buying a standard, over the counter ticket, you could purchase a discounted standby ticket and hop on to any extra seat on a flight headed for your destination. Standby made impulsive trips affordable and while there was a bit of probability involved, the low prices made the gamble worthwhile. The loss of standby will be mourned by all those last-minute jet-setters willing to sacrifice a clear itinerary in favor of flying on the cheap.
7. Inflight Cockpit Tours
On Nov. 19, 2001, with all the right reasons, the U.S. Congress enacted the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA). One of the many issues addressed in the act was cockpit security. Specifically, air carriers were to "fortify cockpit doors to deny access from the cabin to the pilots in the cockpit." Despite the rule against having passengers in the cockpit, there is still a chance you could get a quick tour. While there is no guarantee that the flight crew will allow anyone inside the flight deck, your chances are better once the aircraft is on the ground. To get a view of the cockpit, it is best to ask the captain after the flight.
8. Wing Pins
We decided there should be something light-hearted on this otherwise depressing list. Remember those little pilot wing pins you used to get as a kid? Well, airlines no longer give them away with out a request and sometime they don't carry them at all. For future reference, the trick to nabbing a wing pin is to ask the right flight attendant.