Airline travel has become far less appealing than it has even been in the past. From the bag fees, to long lines and expensive food it is a stressful hassle filled necessity that stands between you and your vacation. In Europe air travel has yet to turn so negative. Below are the top 10 reasons why traveling in Europe will provide you a far better experience.
1. More airline competition
Can you image a roundtrip flight from Seattle to Los Angeles for $50? No, because it’s as common as unicorns in Time Square. In Europe, many budget airlines compete for customers by providing super low cost flights. This makes for cheap last minute weekend trips with friends instead of playing another round of Cards against Humanity in the backyard. Carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet can get you to several beautiful destinations without having to cut back on the gin and tonics when you get there.
2. Easy access
The public transportation network in most European counties is far more developed than in America. When taking an American flight, most families will pack up the SUV with every imaginable gadget and head to park at the airport. They’ll schlep everyone on to the parking shuttle, wait for it to load up, calm the children who can’t stand to wait and eventually arrive at the terminal to haul everything off. In Europe it’s far more common to access to travel to the airport by highly reliable trains. They provide a stress-free low cost way of getting from city centers and also suburb areas. That accident on the 405 no longer matters.
3. Check it
With the exception of Europe’s super low budget airlines most offer 1 free bag on every flight. Say what? Is this the 90s? Is Fresh Prince of Bel-air showing on the plane too? This freebee is still alive which seems to prevent people from carrying on a roller bag so full the zipper is ready to bust. You can remain seated until boarding begins instead of elbowing your way to the front of the boarding area.
4. No shoe removal
The equivalent of TSA does not care if you’re wearing sneakers or spiked heels, keep ‘em on. This means when the sign displays “10 minute wait from this point” it really is 10 minutes and I’m no longer worried about contracting athlete’s foot through that walkway in my bare feet. European airports compete to have the best security experience which leads to a more efficient process.
5. Free alcohol samples
Who knew it would be possible to try that tequila before you buy. It’s as if the Costco sample stands have arrived in Europe. At most hours of the day someone is standing by to let you try a mini shot of tequila or gin or whatever might be the special of the week. While it’s 10am in London it 5 o’clock somewhere so drink up. Alcohol laws are far more relaxed making it quite a nice benefit.
6. Instant customer feedback
How many times have you been grossed out by a public restroom? No one wants to step through someone else’s wet paper after I’ve been wedged in a middle seat for the last 3 hours. This rarely occurs in European airport bathrooms. This is due to buttons near the sink that customers can press ranking their happiness with the restrooms. The red sad face certainly indicates someone needs to stop by and tidy up while the yellow and green happy face means things are fine. This real time data is shared with airport cleaning staff allowing them to tend the area most in need. This seems like a highly effective form of time management and customer satisfaction.
7. Tax free alcohol, food, cosmetics and tchotchkes
Duty free selections at American airports are a bit of a joke. Most people pass right by or don’t even know exist. In Europe it is a shopping highlight many people arrive early to visit. While it is only applicable for international travelers (which usually means everyone) you can really score some deals on gifts and alcohol. Full size stores like Zara, Mango and H&M allow you to pass time deciding if the red or blue blouse match those pants better. Having to pass the time at American airports is far less enjoyable.
8. No ID needed
If you are traveling within the 26 European Schengen counties there is no need to present your ID when you board or at security. While the safety of this seems highly questionable it certainly speeds things up. No more excuses of forgotten ID to avoid that dreaded family reunion.
9. You may now board yourself
I’m confused Europe you want me to scan my own boarding pass until the light turns green and let myself on? Yes that’s right. This reflects Europe’s self-service oriented culture. No one is checking to see if you’re in row 15 or higher. They’re also not concerned with your global, platinum, gold or whatever other status you hold. It’s simply about the most efficient way to get people on board.
10. Free snacks
A few gas inducing peanuts on America’s only budget airline is all you’ll get for free these days. Instead it’s $8 for a snack pack that doesn’t equate to a meal. Free snacks the norm with many euro airlines. Lufthansa and Swiss even offer snacks, sandwiches or meals on short trips.
Time to book a trip!