Over the past few years, commercial airlines have shamelessly shifted their business models to value money above passenger comfort and safety. While there are frequent and scandalous examples of individual airline representatives blowing it, what is even more concerning is the broader and intentional policy shifts that airline executives make.
To travel with a child today on an airplane requires a whole new level of cost, endurance, unpredictability and danger. Airlines now require parents to pay for “extras” like the ability to reserve seats with your traveling companion. Want to sit with your kid? That’ll be $100 more for each of you. You could try calling and calling to find a merciful supervisor. Or hope seats magically open up near each other, or that your fellow travelers are flexible and can play musical chairs for you.
Or, worst of all, you could let your kids sit apart from you. Hopefully the strangers they are crammed next to will be nice and help them when they drop their markers, spill their drinks, or need someone to reach the lights, hold their trash and dig out the stuffed animals. Hopefully the guy in 16A won’t be playing a violent video game or watching “Game of Thrones,” or won’t be creepy in other ways.
And hopefully no emergency will occur, because having a panicked, frozen child — let alone the fearful parent — will endanger everyone. Are you going to exit calmly and quietly while your 10-year-old is four rows behind you?
The richest irony of all? Airlines charge families an extra $150 for “unaccompanied minors,” yet have no shame separating parents from their kids. Rich, indeed — for them.
Nancy O’Brien Wagner, St. Paul
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To the March 2 letter writer who said she will never again fly with Sun Country following her experiences with the airline after its change of ownership:
There are always at least two sides to the story. A couple of years ago we flew Sun Country to Florida and gladly checked our luggage. We had nothing in the overhead. A family boarded after us and hoisted a bag over our head that required two adult men to lift. It seemed scarily heavy. Of course they were the first to stand, even before the plane stopped. I was concerned about the removal of the heavy bag and slid from my aisle seat to my husband’s lap in the middle seat. As we guessed, the heavy bag came crashing down into my seat. Had I been sitting there, I could have been seriously injured.
Our family has reserved seats on Sun Country this summer, and we are very glad that Sun Country has chosen to pressure fliers into checking bags. It is certainly safer for passengers to have luggage properly stowed in the hold. As for the additional seat charge, Sun Country’s fares were still cheaper than Delta’s. We don’t care who owns the airline as long as safety is one of the major concerns.
Pamela Olberg, Minnetonka
THE MURKY MEDICAL SYSTEM
The cost-coding system is a web in which you’ll be trapped
Our health care system is full of absurdities and inefficiencies, as referenced in a March 5 letter about drug pricing (“How murky is it? Read on ...”). My health insurance allows me a yearly physical without charge. Believing that good health includes preventive measures, I had my annual physical and then received a bill. A mistake, I thought. After several phone calls and much time, I learned that the charge was based on the “coding” of the visit to the doctor’s office.
Huh? Seems my doctor mentioned my high cholesterol prescription (deemed by the insurance wizards a pre-existing condition), which she duly noted in my chart. The trained coders in her office (yes, there are schools offering extensive programs just to decipher this convoluted process) made note of this on the billing information to the insurance company, and, voilà, a bill to me. I was told, next physical, do not discuss any existing health issues with my doctor or it would be coded and result in a bill to me.
What? How can this be a good, preventive exam without a discussion of all my health conditions? Sad thing is, many friends and co-workers were not the least bit surprised, having had the same issue. I guess I will bring duct tape to my next visit lest I get the inkling to talk. Oh, by the way, this insane coding system? Maintained by the American Medical Association and going nowhere soon.
Jean Mitchell, Edina
Support for them based on military need is anachronistic
A March 4 letter writer applauded President Donald Trump’s declaration of impending tariffs on steel and aluminum, invoking their role in America’s “Arsenal of Democracy” in World War II. However, in today’s military, rare-earth elements (China), lithium (Argentina, Australia), titanium (Australia, South Africa, Canada) and tantalum (Rwanda, China, Brazil) are far more critical than steel and aluminum. Steel itself is being replaced with carbon fiber composites, the largest producer of which is located in Japan. Trump is trying to drag America to a mythical past that never existed. For the sake of today’s children, we can’t go there.
Gary Box, Golden Valley
CRITICIZING WOMEN-ONLY WORKSPACE
Some things sound sensible until you hear certain people say them
You have got to be kidding! “Pesky glass ceilings!” (Letter on feminism and workspaces, March 5, responding to “A women’s place,” Feb. 25). I completely agree that a women-only workspace sounds like a joke and is totally counterintuitive to what feminism means. During my entire career, I’ve had to contend with the good old boys’ clubs that tried to ignore the concept of feminism, but never once have I considered a women-only group as a solution to sexism. But really, once the letter said women shouldn’t worry about glass ceilings and harassment because lots of women have it much worse, it makes we wonder if maybe there is something to the concept of a place where at least totally clueless, yet condescending, men are not allowed.
Jane Hilary, Brooklyn Park
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The two March 5 letter writers who dissed the need for a women-only workplace are ignorant of the long-term effects of complex post-traumatic stress disorder. The condition has recently been diagnosed. People subjected to repeated intermittent trauma can develop a complex, an excess of anxiety and retriggering of trauma, around anyone who looks, is similar to, or acts like their perpetrator(s).
Treatment for complex PTSD is only in the discovery stages. Without quality treatment, the best option for many is to find and be in a safe space. I don’t begrudge women establishing a women-only workspace. Rather than criticize these women for not being friendlier to men, be compassionate, give money to C-PTSD research, and stand with the #MeToo movement.
Paul Rozycki, Minneapolis
Sens. Klobuchar, Smith are flunking constituent services
I am very disappointed in U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith regarding constituent communications. I have called in and e-mailed Klobuchar’s office numerous times over her years in Congress. I have never received an e-mail back regarding her stand on an issue. When I have called her office, I am often told that she will not say where she stands before a vote. Sen. Smith has been in office for two months now, and I haven’t received any responses from her, either. When I spoke to a staff person recently, they said that they are in the process of determining how to respond to constituents technologically or that you have to mail a paper letter to get a response. This is no way to treat the citizens and voters of Minnesota.
Debra A. Hoffman, Eden Prairie