Some thoughts on the future of air travel


The freakonomics blog over at the NYTimes has an interesting post about the future of the US airline industry. They got a few big names together and asked them about what was going on in terms of consolidation, delays, product and all sorts of other fun stuff. And the responses are pretty entertaining.

Ideas range from charging more for landing fees for smaller planes and/or peak times to putting music and mood lighting in the bathrooms (thanks, Branson/Virgin Atlantic :/), with lots of other stuff in between.

My favorite comment, however was from a pilot who noted that there are really two major things wrong (security and delays) and many things right (cost, flexibility, etc.) with travel. On the security front, he writes:

Most passenger disappointment is driven by two things: security hassles and
flight delays. The existing security protocols are, for the most part, immensely
absurd and tedious, but there is only so much the airlines themselves can do
about it. What the situation will be like ten years from now is anyone’s guess.
Here’s hoping that as time goes on, the TSA revises its more wasteful and
arbitrary policies, improving the flow of passengers through terminals. The
likelihood of that happening depends partly on the mindset of the traveling
public. Thus far, spooked by the specter of “terrorism,” be it real or
perceived, travelers have expressed a rather troubling willingness to accept
nonsensical, intrusive, and humiliating policy in the name of security.

So apparently all it takes is everyone (especially the politicians) realizing that there is no palpable difference in the security povided today versus 10 years ago, despite the enormous costs and hassles associated with today’s version, and flying will be back to “normal” in no time.

Here’s hoping he’s right, and that they get it – sooner than not.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

2 Comments

  1. Last night, just before my flight CO1186 was diverted to Syracuse for fueling, the pilot apologized and then urged us to “vote our frustrations”. What vote was he talking about? The thing where the small plane owners have to pay for more air traffic control?

    p.s. sorry Wallse wasn’t an unqualified success for you.

  2. You really should fly on the MDW-LGA flight on Delta. I have no idea why you continue to insist on the Continental flights.

    The “vote” reference is to encourage your representatives to support the FAA plan. Right now it is the only viable option on the table. Most of the arguements about additional noise for folks living on the ground is a joke – the effects will be much less than what people are making it out to be. They’re all worried about property value, and I can’t blame them, but it won’t be so bad as to bankrupt towns across the tri-state area.

    The biggest problem is that most folks don’t travel that often, and they are going to vote for whichever politician promises to oppose the plan, as that is better for them individually, and the politicians are going to represent their constituents. Sadly, there are times where socialism seems like a better idea to me – at least in this case because I’m one of the few that would benefit from change being imposed on the masses.

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