Staying Grounded

When the treatment offered to passengers by the airlines probably violates the Geneva Conventions, the question is obvious: Why fly when you don't have to?


When the airlines raise prices and fees for their torture and treat their customers with contempt, the question is: Why fly when you don't have to?


It is true that fuel prices have hit hard, but the real problem is a deregulated system where the greedy profiteers who run the corporations have cut staff to the point that they can't keep their miserably uncomfortable planes in the air.


Commonly, the poor sap who has to fly is forced to take up residence at the airport. So the question recurs: Why fly when you don't have to?


Sadly, we sometimes do have to. We were suckered into a business model that often requires our presence elsewhere. The advantage of flying, of course, was the speed with which we could go back and forth.


No longer can we rely on that quick transport. Instead it is increasingly likely we don't make our appointments, the plans sabotaged by schedules that are fiction.


We still keep trying. There are times when our commerce requires attempting to get somewhere this way. Computer or telephone meetings are simply not adequate.


But for the rest of us, do we really need recreational air travel? How recreational is it anyway, to be stuffed in some terminal, unable to leave? If Mr. Sartre hadn't already used it, a good title for a book about the experience would be No Exit.

Should we voluntarily descend into this hell when we don't have to? Shouldn't we think about boycotting the airlines for all but essential travel and make them get their acts together, at least enough to provide consumer service that at least meets the standards of a John Yoo memo?


Surely there is enough to do near our homes. Whatever we give up in the pleasures of some exotic faraway place we can more than make up by simply avoiding being dehumanized.


Or maybe we need to think about RE-regulating air travel. The strongest argument for the present system is that it was supposed to offer more choices. Unfortunately, all of those choices now are bad.