September 28, 2007
Air Travel Unraveled (Bob Franken)
@ 11:37 am
OK, fellow travelers. We have President Bush on board. Or we will pretty soon.
Apparently realizing that it’s not all that long before he’ll have to fly commercial again, the president announced that he’s aware there is a problem in the unfriendly skies (and the terminals and tarmacs) that somebody has to do something about. Or at least study.
Of course, there’s a big row about which somebody. The airlines insist that this is not their fault, and that limiting the number of flights that cause impossible gridlock during rush hour is not the answer. It’s the traffic cops, the controllers and a system that is too obsolete to handle the bumper-to-bumper — make that wing-to-wing — traffic.
The government says that it is developing brand-new technology. Of course, by the time it’s in place, at the current rate, it will already be out of date.
So what’s the answer? Actually there are several:
Passengers: Fly first thing in the morning.
This way you stand a better chance of avoiding the delays that accumulate as the day wears on. The plane is already at the gate on time, and the only hitch is that the crew is not. Of course, mechanical problems do spontaneously happen overnight.
Passengers: Don’t fly first thing in the morning.
That’s when everybody else wants to fly. That’s what causes those ungodly backups of planes waiting to take off.
Airlines: Cancel some of those flights.
Actually, never mind. You already do. Every damned time I fly.
Security: Replace those TSA officers with guards from Blackwater.
It won’t make the search lines move any faster, but it sure as hell will cut down on the whining about it.
Passengers: Bring lots of material. Lots.
You will probably have enough time on the ground in the terminal and on the tarmac to complete a college course or two. Maybe you can write your entire thesis. May I suggest a working title? How about The Inevitable Correlation Between a System’s Collapse and Deregulation?
Passengers: Buy plenty to eat to take on board.
This way, you can supplement what the airlines will provide while you sit on the runways. And don’t worry. The dry, tasteless, Styrofoam-like food they sell at exorbitant prices in the terminal will taste mighty good after a few hours.
Passengers: Avoid flying if at all possible.
A boycott is unrealistic, but if we all stop submitting ourselves to this torture unless we absolutely have to, the airlines might change their ways. Well, at least we can dream, can’t we?