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March 9, 2019

   First of all, this headline may be misleading. The “hell” is not a destination . . . it’s trying to get there!

   In my 30 years of residing on the island of Crete, Greece, I must have traveled to New York more than 20 times to see my family. Since they’ve yet to construct a tunnel under the Atlantic, and since a private yacht would stretch my budget a bit, I’ve been forced (and “forced” is the  operative word here) to use commercial airlines. Believe me, I’ve tried them all. Olympic, when they had a non-stop Athens to JFK – non-stop except for forced landings in some remote airfields to remove unruly passengers – was my first choice. Silly me. Once, as we were sitting on the tarmac awaiting take-off, I watched from my window seat as a luggage loader missed its mark and actually poked a hole in the side of the aircraft. It took seven hours to weld a patch! And I still took the damned flight!

   Yes, I tried them all – British Airways, with a transfer at Heathrow; KLM, with a transfer at Schiphol; Lufthansa, with a transfer at Munich; Air France, with a transfer at Orly (or was it de Gaull?); Air Swiss, with a transfer at some other godforsaken place, and many others. Here’s the tally: seven missed connections, nine incidents of lost luggage. Plus wet seats from leaking air condition; a neck-numbing draft, the origin of which was a complete mystery to the flight crew; inoperable headsets; broken seats (I mean, who wants to “recline” on a eight-hour flight, anyway?) And late take-offs and arrivals? Fuhgeddaboudit. And, all this in seats custom designed for Tattoo of Fantasy Island.

   Well, this year I was in for a treat . . . or so I thought.  Emirates Airline is here, and with a non-stop flight from Athens to New York – well, Newark, really, but hell, close enough. I haven’t been to Newark since I was last mugged. I made reservations early, actually late last year for our April flight, for my wife and I. Hotel, too, for 30 days at the beautiful Adria in Bayside, Queens, and minutes from my daughter and grandson. Great!  We were really looking forward to traveling by Emirates, with all the oohing and aahing we’ve been hearing about wider seats, extra leg room, etc. Unfortunately, my wife’s hip operation, originally scheduled for last November, was delayed several times (an airline phrase) and was not performed until late January, making travel in April impossible. So, armed with an official document from the surgeon and hospital stating this fact, I cancelled my flight and hotel reservations. The hotel clerk said no problem, hope your wife feels better, and gave a complete refund.  Emirates, on the other hand, said you have a 150 Euro penalty. Penalty?  Penalty, according to those old guys at Oxford, means “punishment.” A number of emails later (Emirates, on its website, offers no means of actually “talking” to a human being) and the ghostly emailer refused my request to, perish the thought, "speak" to a supe

rvisor) the airline remained adamant – THE PENALTY IS FINAL! NO EXCEPTIONS!! Finally fed up with the entire episode, I told, or rather, emailed this unknown entity: “Okay, fine. If Emirates needs 150 Euros (about $200) more than a pensioner with a medical emergency, keep it.” It’s too bad, though. What Emirates may be giving passengers in terms of extra space, it’s taking back in “human relations.” What a shame. Well, Emirates may be flying high now (pun intended), but with policies like this, it will soon be grounded (ditto).  The mighty crumble – one disgruntled passenger at a time.

   If you don’t believe me, does anyone remember this guy?

   You know, I used to think this spoof (below) of the United Airlines slogan, which appeared about 40 years ago, had a sexual connotation. But, now I realize it simply represents what airlines are doing to passengers . . .  every chance they get.















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