James Lileks
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I once flew on a Sun Country plane, and they served hot dogs. It was like going to camp. You expected the flight attendants to say, “We’re going to disable the smoke detectors and make s’mores!” I loved that airline.

But it’s different now. Certainly you’ve heard how the company left people stranded in Mexico, unable to get home. Nothing could be done, passengers were told.

Imagine if those abandoned had been financiers who wanted to invest money in the airline. Then it’s possible something could be done.

In the old days of flying, it was different. Right? You put on your white tails and gloves, checked your top hat at the counter and off you went. While the plane was climbing, the stewardesses were throttling Cornish game hens so you could have a fresh poultry dinner in an hour.

A tube from the ceiling delivered Champagne. When the plane began its descent, you got hot towels, a shoeshine, manicure and everyone passed around a puppy. Upon disembarking, the pilot personally gave everyone $5.

Well, no. The truth: There was so much cigarette smoke that the characters in the book you were reading developed a nagging cough; the airport food consisted of sawdust hamburgers and motor-oil coffee; and it cost a lot.

Now? We have one of the best airports in the country, planes have Wi-Fi and you can watch a movie on the back of the seat in front of you. In the old days, if you wanted to watch a movie, “Ben-Hur” was projected on a shoe box lid 20 rows away.

But still we complain about flying. Why?

1. Other people, specifically the ones attempting to jam a stroller the size of a go-cart chassis in the overhead compartment, and the people who wear tank tops and flip-flops as if it’s Body Hair Pride Week.

2. TSA, the only federal agency specifically tasked with taking away bottles of water.

3. Fees. Hot deal: Vegas round-trip, $39! Great. You book. Then there’s a $29 fee for booking. A $5 surcharge if you pack a novel with more than three characters. A carry-on fee that includes “wallets.” It’s like going to McDonald’s and learning you paid for the sack, but not the meat or the bun.

Airlines can do something about the last one: Charge a reasonable price that includes everything. Otherwise, the nickel-and-dime approach makes customers think the company has $1.98 in the bank. Although, that would be a good excuse as to why they can’t go get someone who is stranded in a foreign country: It costs too much — and it’s money that could be spent on gold staples for next year’s annual report.

We’re not asking for hot dogs anymore. We just don’t want to be treated like the stuff that goes into them.