Yep. There are three classes of air transport: First Class, Business Class (not all airlines have it now) and Third Class (the usual ride for most folks).
Let's start with the airports themselves: I haven't been to one I like in decades, and I've flown in an out of about 12 or so. LAX is the worst. It's filthy, and all manner of the dregs of society fill it's waiting areas and concourses along with people like myself, who are used to being orderly, and in return, want clean and orderly surroundings. In LAX, half the escalators don't work, there are half-assed attempts at construction in every concourse with no attempt made to keep down the dust and debris, and their airline-handling plan sucks the biggest root you can imagine. It's impossible to fly into LAX and not have at least a 3/4 mile walk to another terminal if you are changing airlines. PHX is just about as bad, just not torn up quite so much.
I can certainly understand the security concerns after 9-11, but in LAX, I had to have my passport and ticket looked at twice at chokepoints before I got to security screening. Why? Any terrorist is going to have a passport, maybe fake, but it will get by these observers, and of course will also have an air ticket. There's no need for such pre-screening before you even get to the security screening.
TSA screeners aren't up to speed on the X-ray scanners. I had a normal retractable ball-point pen alerted as an Exacto knife, which necessitated a total search of my person and carry-on, even though the pen was in my laptop case ALONG WITH SEVERAL OTHER PENS. The total shoe-removal horsecrap is still there, but will probably stay thanks to the POTUS' speech a few weeks ago.
OK, so I'm finally in the concourse, waiting for my connection. In LAX, if I want to use Internet, I have to either find a Starbucks and pay Boingo a $7 fee, or use one of the little proprietary set-ups that dot the airport, each with it's little chair, monitor and keyboard. Wait, I forgot, those little Internet stations aren't really available, as they are usually full of thugs lounging there dispite all the signs that say the computer carrels are for customers only. I don't want to express any racism here, so I won't remark on the standard profile of these carrel-occupiers.
Then it's time to board.
A few obvious things about boarding aircraft first.
There is an obvious right way to put pax on an aircraft (and I navigated passenger transports for a while in the USAF), and that is to board the first-class first (they paid for the privilege), then any handicapped, then the rest of the aircraft from the back to the front. All the airlines used to board this way. None do now (at least none of the ones I've flown recently). The first class go first, then the handicapped, then everyone else in a confused gaggle. Obviously, this results in a idiotic delay in loading. Its all because some bozos complained that they didn't like the regimentation of being told when to do what. The cabin crews hate it, because it compresses their pre-flight work into a very short time frame.
So, we're seated, belted and waiting for departure. We get the usual briefings. Only, the briefings are missing one key component now: which row of seats is to use which exit in an emergency ground egress of the airplane, as in the case of fire or ditching. This is very important, because there is usually no more than 60 seconds to get everyone out of an aircraft if it's managed to crash or ditch in a survivable condition.
We've pushed back, and we taxi to the active runway. The pilot takes the runway, advances the throttles to takeoff power, and we launch safely into the wild blue.
Safely for about 30 seconds.
With only a few hundreds of feet of altitude, the pilots bring back the throttles, even before they've gotten enough speed to retract the flaps. That saves fuel.
And increases risk to the aircraft and it's load of passengers.
In flying, it is a truism that airspeed and altitude equal safety. Less airspeed and less altitude equals risk.
Every time I fly commercial air, my precious ass is being risked to a degree with these less-than-max-power takeoffs. Just so the airlines can put a few more dollars in their pockets.
The proper way to take off is to take the active runway, stop, spool up the engines while holding the brakes, confirm max power, release the brakes and get the aircraft off the ground. On climb-out, the pilot maintains the angle of attack that results in the best acceleration of the aircraft up to flap retraction, then past flap retraction to best climb airspeed, reducing to cruise-climb only when out of the departure pattern and handed off to enroute control. As an air navigator, I monitored and computed for these procedures so many times you couldn't count them. The military ALWAYS uses this procedure in heavy aircraft (anything above a fighter type).
There is no reason to do these reduced-power takeoffs for noise abatement, since all commercial jets flying in the USA have to be certified to noise standards AT FULL TAKEOFF POWER. The only reason that they do them is that they save a couple of hundred pounds of jet fuel on each flight, and with Jet-A at 60 cents a pound or so, the savings of $120-300 per flight is justified in the minds of the green-eyeshade crew at the airlines.
Here's MY bottom line: the airlines are bound by morality AND law to operate in the manner that provides the safest flight for their passengers and aircrews. ANYTHING that reduces the margin of safety by even a fraction of a percent is unacceptable, IMHO.
One other connected peeve.
Who is doing the preflight inspection of commercial aircraft these days? On several occasions this trip, I noted both pilots arriving just minutes before passenger boarding. The pilot is responsible for determining whether the aircraft is safe to fly, and that determination MUST involve a careful inspection of the maintenance log (takes 5-10 minutes) and a shoes-on-the-ground walkaround inspection of the airplane that should take at least 10-15 minutes, WITH CHECKLIST IN HAND. I don't think it's being done, I think it's being delegated to ground crew to do. The name for that is complacency.
Complacency is the shortest route to an accident scene.