Fortunately I have no need to travel by air, so I don't, but I am a bit concerned that
the people who fly regularly are so willing to put up with the unmitigated abuse of
power at US airports.
This page is not primarily about the quality of airline food, or sitting next
to talkative sweaty fat people, or exposure to second hand smoke,
cosmic radiation, first- or second-hand airsickness, stewardesses with tuberculosis, or
crying babies. I don't feel sorry for passengers who are stuck with a boring in-flight
movie, substandard food, no sound from the left stereo speaker, air turbulence, "sardine
seating", or inadequate leg room, elbow room, head room, or overhead storage compartment
space. And I don't especially share your concern about in-flight cell phone service
or broadband internet service on board airplanes. It's an airplane, after all, not a
hotel lobby. And once in the air, you're approaching your destination
at 500 mph. It's much faster than the bus or the train, at least for
trips longer than 300 miles.
This page is about long lines due to security screening, political correctness
overcoming common sense (for example, searching Al Gore as if he was a terrorist
threat), head-to-toe x-rays of every passenger, strip searches, wanding, groping and
probing of people, no matter how obviously harmless, and the extra scrutiny given to
people who fit a set of secret parameters.
Part of one page is about Big Brother's
secret No-Fly List. If
there is a list of known dangerous people, so dangerous that they can't be allowed aboard
an airplane, why aren't those people arrested or deported? What does it take to get
on the list? Nobody will say.
The events of September 11 were devastating, but the surviving perpetrators of those
attacks are no doubt enjoying the long lasting side-effects, including
the enormous inconveniences presented to the everyday air traveler. This
overreaction is turning our once free country into a police state, under the
pretense of protecting us all from further hijackings. And some of the
solutions are ridiculous: Taking plastic knives out of airport restaurants
is not a sensible deterrent to ruthless mass murderers!
The obvious advantage of air travel is high speed. But the average speed is
reduced considerably if passengers have to arrive at the airport two hours (or
more) before a flight, and spend additional time at the destination airport. With
all these delays, you might find that your average travel time is little more than
100 mph — about what it was when people traveled by air fifty
years ago. Average speed by air, if I were to guess, probably
reached its peak about 1990.
I am astonished by the number of frequent fliers who put up with unreasonable
search and seizure (in addition to the other inconveniences listed above) as a
matter of routine. It seems everyone who travels by air has stories to tell
about ridiculous screening processes which include everything but
common sense. Why do people put up with this kind of treatment?