I find it slighty ironic writing this post from the Airport Marriott in Philly, knowing that the rain and snow in the north-east today caused major havoc with a number of airlines, and that I paid a lot less for my room than the displaced travelers looking for a bed tonight, but here I am to remind you that it could be a lot worse.
As the Chinese New Year approaches next week about 200 million people are expected to take to the air, road and rails in that country, with many of them traveling this week to make sure they are at their destination in time for the holiday. So when the worst winter storm in 50 years rolls in, things get ugly in a hurry. The rail system was more or less paralyzed for almost a week, stranding millions of people. And unlike O’Hare, where the passengers sleep on the floor or in local hotels, in Guangzhou 800,000 people were corralled into a temporary holding pen waiting for the trains to return to normal. Kindof puts things in perspective a bit. Officials are basically begging the migrant workers to not go home in an effort to alleviate the chaos, though it will be difficult to convince people to not take what is generally their only vacation of the year.
The scale of impact certainly is different, but the idea of hundreds of thousands of passengers effectively rioting in an effort to get on the trains does bring back some memories of airport encounters I’ve witnessed, though the riot police were never called in on those (regular cops on occaison). I sure hope this doesn’t mess up my trip to Hong Kong next week.
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