Airline travel has come a long way from the days we could smuggle a pet rat to Detroit on a carry-on hat.

Cramped and cranky is the name of the airplane game/Ryn Gargulinski

We have come to expect lengthy security lines, dumping out our coffee and water in the trash and bringing passports and blood samples just to get through the pre-boarding gate.

We are even used to the incessant holdups from folks who insist on wearing lace-up knee high boots when they know full well they are going to have to take off their shoes.

But we have not yet gotten used to how chintzy airlines have become. The first inkling of the high cost of airline travel came while booking the tickets in the first place. Cheaptickets.com can no longer live up to its name.

Flying the unfriendly skies/Ryn Gargulinski

At least $400 was the going rate for roundtrip from Arizona to Michigan. Unless, of course, we were willing to make two or more lengthy stopovers in places like Duluth, Minn., or Mouse Island, Maine, neither of which are really on the way to the Great Lakes State.

One flight option may have even included a quick jaunt to Alaska first.

Chintzy red flag number two came when we had to pay for any checked-in luggage, even if it were standard size and fewer than 40 pounds. We’d hate to know the cost of the guitar case one dude tried to carry on the plane or the child-size wooden skeleton I once brought back from Mexico.

But the real clincher came when we got no free peanuts. Who cares if the little packets often contained about five nuts and 7,000 milligrams of sodium. At least they were free.

Clouds look like marshmallows when you're starving on your flight/Ryn Gargulinski

Some airlines now require us to pay for any little scrap of food.

About $3 gets us that formerly free pack of five peanuts. Up the ante to $4 and get a pack of nine mixed nuts. Go all out with a $7 charge for a single slice of meat hidden deep between two slabs of bread and creatively called a sandwich.

Credit cards only, please.

After a hefty snack of $33 worth of peanut packs, even the nap will cost us.

A complimentary pillow or blanket has become a thing of the past. We are instead forced to pay another $7 for an airline “sleep kit” which includes a blanket as thin as the sandwich’s piece of meat, an airline sleep mask and a blow-up pillow that makes us dizzy in the airplane’s thin atmosphere.

The sleep kit also includes a pair of disposable ear plugs too chintzy to block out the man on the next aisle who goes on and on about his travels from New York and experience in nuclear physics to a total stranger.

Chintzy airline practices have also seemed to make fellow passengers more annoying.

The best part of the flight is landing/Ryn Gargulinski

Perhaps they are light-headed or woozy from lack of food, or cranky from not having the $7 to plop down for a nap.

Or maybe they’re just missing their dear pet rat, which they could no longer smuggle on board to Michigan.

[tnipoll]

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Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who never had a flag outfit but does dig red shoes. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com and Rynski.Etsy.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

What do you think?

Are you fed up with airline’s cheap-o practices? What are some other examples?

Do you enjoy flying?

How much would you be willing to pay for a bag of free peanuts?

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What do you think?