2006/08/13

Is this the future of travel?

After last week's bhouhaha over liquid explosives on airplanes, I got to thinking about the how the authorities responded. TSA handled it poorly, but they didn't come close to the draconian measures that the Brits imposed. No beverages, no reading material, no carry ons, no electronic devices. That latest page turner? Nope. Your iPod? Forget it. And don't think that TSA isn't headed in this direction. Not that I'm saying that such precautions may not be warranted. The first time an airliner goes down because someone smuggles nitro onboard in an Evian bottle, the cry will go up for passengers to fly in the nude, but at what point do we just give up and say, "Screw air travel. It's just too damn burdensome."

United WagonlinesI mean...what the f*ck do the authorities expect us to do on board? Watch a badly cut version of 'Little Miss Sunshine'? Listen to inane programming about how to relieve stress. Or how about that music channel devoted entirely to Kelly Clarkson's greatest hits? Read the fascinating in-flight mag with it's 5 articles on golf and 500 ads for unaffordable condo developments in Florida? Yeah right! You may not think that this is a big deal for the average shuttle from NYC to the nation's capital, but try this on the 14 hour haul from San Francisco to Sydney!

The economics for the airline industry are looking bad as well. Do you remember when airports were populated by small unknown fast food joints, selling the nastiest eats in the developed world? Well, we may get there again. With airlines trying to shave every minute they can off your connection time--with TSA lines stretching into the hours--you may never again taste a Big Mac at Denver, and you certainly won't be able to take it on board. Shops that survive on selling you $5 water and $2 mints are going to abandon the airports like rats off a sinking ship. Who cares that you won't be able to take the latest John Grisham novel on board, their won't be anybody to sell it to you anyway.

So here's how it looks going forward: 20 minutes to the airport; 30 minutes to check in; 45 minutes get through TSA; No food, water, or newspapers on a concourse that looks like Tombstone, AZ; 2 hours of excruciating boredom on the flight; and finally 45 minutes of waiting for the bags you were forced to check. In all your "short hop" to L.A. is now a 5 hour trip through hell. But...what are the alternatives? Trains? Bwahahahahaha! Not in the US my friend. Cars? The gasoline costs more than the ticket. Nope. I'll tell you the alternative. Stay the f*ck home, and watch the airlines go down the tubes. Don't get me wrong though. I don't think that this is a good thing. I think it's terrible, but until we get creative and find solutions that provide a reasonable level of protection while keeping flying from becoming a nightmare of boredom and privation, we don't have any alternatives.

23 Comments:

I picked my younger son up at Amtrak the day they clamped down on airline security. He told me the train was crowded (never happens) and that Greyhound was as well. He was glad he was traveling on a return ticket.

I look for the puddle jump airlines to suffer. Who would want to go through all that when the train is about a 4 hour comfortable trip?
You're making a point I've been thinking about, too ... that maybe ONE of the redalert spurs was so many airlines yet again facing bankruptcy. remember the big federal bailout after 911? well, maybe it was time to push us to bail them out again & one idea was to bring all this redalert crap out to make us taxpayers so sympathetic to their poor plight that we don't question paying for another massive fed aid pkg. I could see this kind of logic playing a side part of any bush decision, not the main impetus, just a side benefit to keep his good friends at UA, AA, etc happy.

Trains! Even IF we had systems like Eurail, or Britrail, or Austrail, there is no reason the old redalert herring couldn't be used there, too. Same for cruise ships and bus travel. What's left, hot air balloons?

I'm waiting for the day those "agriculture check points" at each state's border are used for this same type of crap. That's when we'll all be forced to stay home only to find all our TV choices are down to FoxNews, American Idol & Celebrity Relay Races. Gah! (and i thought we were a mobile society) -- D.K.
I think this is all payback for Homeland Security finding that Viagra in Rush's carry on.
the 14 hour haul from San Francisco to Sydney which is now 16 - 18 hours we have be warned.
You won't need terrorists when you get a plane load of belligerant, bored Aussies!
I also note some airlines have used the situation to introduce cost slashing. Security meaures mean they can do pretty much as they please and f**k the customer.
Granny, I heard that Amtrak saw a big jump in service, and I can understand why, but I'm concerned that the trains will get this level of security as well eventually.

D.K., perhaps...perhaps, but with two of the majors already in receivorship, another bailout is unlikely IMHO. Do like the hot air balloon idea though. How about zeppelins? How cool would that be?!
...which is now 16 - 18 hours we have be warned.
You won't need terrorists when you get a plane load of belligerant, bored Aussies!


No need to warn me about belligerant Aussies. I was on United's flight from San Fran to Sydney the night that John Howard and the Liberals first came to power in Australia. They announced the results over the loudspeakers; half of the passengers started cheering; and the other half started throwning things at the celebrants.
Don't matter which way you travel, you'll never escape the long arm of the Bush ADD-ministration. they need to keep you scared to keep you from remembering 9/11 happened on their watch!
the other half started throwning things at the celebrants. Just imagine how bad it will get when the supply of VB is cut off! There is nothing so belligerent as an Aussie denied beer.
hey I flew back from CT Aug 10th - I arrived at the airport in blissful ignorance... gee why are these lines so long? what are all these bins for?- they took my water bottles! I do NOT do well without my water bottles.... and I had to pack I bunch of stuff, but it seems I had it easy compared to many, and compared to now. Now the real fun starts.
Ron, they're not trying to make anybody forget 9/11. They want us to remember and, as you so rightly point out, keep us scared. I'm betting on a deadly disease, thwarted just before it enters the population as the September Surprise.

Cartledge, denying Aussies beer is like telling Satan that red is not his color!

Callooh, I feel for you. I'm dreading my next vacation already.
I'm w/you for now. After all there is no place like home.
Solar powered dirigibles...with free wet bars. Who's in?
Mary, my only problem is that, being the city dweller that I am, I get sort of stuck in the "There are things to see outside of SF?" rut. Need to fight that.

Fred, I'm so in. I think that dirigibles would be a great way to get around.
Air travel is for the birds, no? Well, if long lines to get in isn't enough to get you to stop flying and poluting our airs with jet fuel exhaust...the airlines build more seats into the aircraft, as they like to stuff em in knee to ass end and the days you climb inbetween an obese individual and the lady with a crying infant is the day you swear off flying for real...
The problem is that they are always taking things to extremes...and when first implemented it's always chaos.
But now we can have solid lipstick, but no mascara. NO MASCARA? Fuck that, I have to stay home now.
Hey POP how you doing? Aaron buddy, nice to see you here too!
KV
I just want to say! If you all really want to get pissed off think of this fact! It is all for naught! That is unless they stop serving drinks on board. All anyone has to do is carry the various components on the plane , get a drink on the plane, put the components together the Bingo!
I also have to laugh that you can have 4 oz. of liquids but no more. What is that the magic amount where it will only kill some passengers but not bring down the plane?
Sorry about the mascara Pop but you probably don't need it anyway!
WS, had that experience. I once sat next to a guy that was so obese, I asked to be reseated on the grounds that I'd paid for a whole seat and was only getting half. (Makes me a bad person, I know.)

Sumo, seems you're right and they're backing off a bit. But the 5 hour ordeal for a two hour (as the crow flies) trip is still a reality.

PoP, might have mentioned this on Morning Martini, but you could always tell them that your mascara is made of baby formula.

Average Patriot, right you are. Bruch Schneier has an excellent examination of the response using his "movie threat" theme.
They lifted the restricitons on electronic equipment this morning in the U.K. and now they allow a hand-bag one half the normal size. Someone explain to me how having half as much carry-on items improves security.

The water thing is what really gets me. I carry about 3 liters for the long hop from London to L.A. which I do at least once per year. Maybe I could bring sealed containers, open them in front of security and pound about half a liter in their presence. That would pretty much eliminate the possibility of the fluid being an explosive.

A lap-top obviously provides a larger threat than water, but a thirsty young punk is not nearly as important as a business man who carries his computer everywhere. I'm both.
kvatch, i think i flew next to that same (obese) guy! It was when he flapped open his newspaper, both sides full out (not folded) & kept rattling it in my face that I asked to be reseated. Unfortunately, the flight was full. I then asked the stewardess (or whatever they call themselves now) to talk some sense into the guy. She took one look at his bulk & declined, claiming it was personal problem. I was too young & dumb to ask if any 1st class seats were open. to this day, i feel bad that he & i couldn't reason the whole space thing out. perhaps my obvious personal disgust contributed to his desire to make my life miserable. It was a 5-hr flight from hell that i've never forgotten. all i know is if HE was in an aisle seat, no terrorist could get around him. hmmm, maybe an idea for homelandsecurity? D.K.
No, NO, no, I am a travel professional, please don't stop traveling despite the fact that you will all smell bad and can't brush your teeth or anything. NOO, or I will be without a job, and homeless. Of course, then I might be able to get the new subsidised housing that I blogged about today in Santa Barbara.

But I leave for Melbourne end of the month, for my annual 2 weeks in Australia. They think we're redikulus.
Kvatch, I finally bought my ticket back to Chicago for September's jaunt. I have to say, it took me five extra days to get around to doing it this time. Oh, I am not looking forward to traveling. I have to go for a week. I'll have to go back in October as well - pretty much every month.

I'm still working on the FDTG website. Everybody has their cracking point, and the weird stuff that happens afterward I suppose is different for everyone. I decided to start a religion, because it's certainly no less useless than anything else you can do in the face of all this idiocy. I don't have a choice about traveling, but I have a choice of the method by which I go insane.

Send me a silly picture of something and I'll post it up to distract other people. Anything you want - photoshopped or not. Thanks for converting!
ah, I forgot something...for your info!

gothamfirstdistributed at gmail dot com

Add a comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link