[rant] - The Age of Flight: 1903 - 2007?

Sep 3, 2006

Dear North America: please improve the rail. Seriously, guys, modern rail is fast, efficient, and if you invest in it it could power a new and more sustainable economy.

I am warning you of this now because I am predicting: the age of flight as we know it is going to end.

In brief, I would like to cite a very caustic yet accurate prediction by JJ of Filibuster:

... Ah why the heck not, Dave also did a pretty good job of illustrating the situation.

JJ predicts in his strip that the future of air travel will be such that we can barely carry OURSELVES onto the plane, but my prediction is that there will be hardly any air travel at all.

I flew across the country a week ago, and Vancouver int'l was ridiculous. Customs and security were pretty busy, but they moved rather efficiently, so that wasn't the problem. At Vancouver int'l, at least for now, you can't get liquids when you're PAST security.

Snack vendors no longer carried bottled beverages. The vending machines were taped up and shut down. (For once I was upset that I didn't even have the priviledge of paying $2.50 for a Pepsi...) Water fountains were still functional, if you could fight the ridiculous lineups for them. And forget about tap water... not even empty bottles were allowed past security. (I watched security argue with a kind old lady about her small water bottle, that she needed to take her medication.)

People who know me know I am a thirsty thirsty girl. At restaurants, I usually try to get my own pitcher. So when I had to wait two hours for my flight (y'know, had to leave extra time for the security gong show), and I didn't have my XL Nalgene bottle to keep me hydrated, it was a bad and cranky scene.

I ended up waiting in line at Starbucks for HALF AN HOUR... just to get a cup of water. ...Ok, a water and a venti tangerine juice-blend frappucino (I wasn't gonna let a wait like that go to waste!) but half an hour was the minimum wait for ANY kind of service at a water distributor. While I was in this line, I observed the new signs indicating the "rules of the game"...

  • Forget bottles. Bottles of any kind are now strictly VERBOTEN, with the exception of baby bottles.[/*:m]
  • No lids. No lids of any kind on any cup. My completely clear cup of water couldn't even have a clear lid. That made it fun to carry while carrying my identification, laptop and carryon-luggage-that-cannot-be-left-unattended. Oh and by the way, this no-lid policy also applies to scalding-hot venti cups of coffee. Yeah, that's real safe.[/*:m]
  • Even if you manage to get yourself some liquid, you can't get that stuff onto the plane. Well, in theory. I managed to get stuff on 2 or 3 times. I AM A THIRSTY GIRL.[/*:m]

I was talking with a co-worker and he says that not only should liquids be banned, they should have been banned long ago. He illustrated many creative ways that liquids could be used to wreak havoc on a plane. I still disagree, because EVERYTHING, including ourselves, can be used in a harmful way. Trevor likes to say: "If you constantly think of what can go wrong, you'll never bring yourself to do ANYTHING;" that's the way I see this situation.

Everyone has their "line" that, once crossed, they will be pissed the fuck off. Liquids is mine. Books are my friend's. Technology will be the big one. When you pair no technology with six hour flights and unlocked luggage, it will kill the business flyer economy.

The line is being pushed for many business flyers, it's being pushed so hard that career flyers are starting to re-evalute their "willing to travel" status. Business flyers are probably about 80% of an airline's income because they always need to fly, and they usually pay full-fare. I'm afraid that when THEY go (and with the current trends, they probably will), most airlines that are already borderline will go under. And then, we will need the rail.

Terrorists aim to make us change our daily patterns by inciting fear into the masses with random attacks. The "liquid" attack failed... yet we are still subjected to this level of scrutiny and inconvenience. I'm tempted to say that the terrorists have won.