It will take drastic action to make air travel bearable again.
This week, after three years, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals gave Kennedy International Airport permission to shoot some birds that fly around the runways threatening to cause plane crashes. This ruling — and the three years it took to appear — shed some light on a subject I’ve wondered about for a long time: Why is air travel so grotesquely unpleasant?
I’ve been writing professionally for ten years; in that time, I have played my professional-writer card exactly once, last year, after a flight on United Airlines. My three-hour flight was delayed for six hours, till 3 a.m.; the delay was the result of our plane having been docked at the wrong gate and forgotten about. No one had cleaned it, and it hadn’t been connected to the airport’s power supply. When they found the plane, and loaded us onto it, its engines wouldn’t start, because it was 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and without power, the engines were frozen. Because the engines were frozen, the cabin heat couldn’t be turned on. Since the plane wasn’t ready to go, the door was left open. Before long, the entire cabin and all of us inside it were 10 degrees Fahrenheit. We sat there shivering for two hours while they tried to get the engines started. The next day, my return flight was delayed seven hours, because our pilots had hit their maximum legal air-time, and no one had thought to find replacements.
Everyone has bad-flight stories. I was prepared to shrug it off until United offered to make it up to me with a 50-dollar gift certificate toward a future United flight, and asked me for my “feedback.” I fired off a snippy e-mail telling them to keep their gift card and that any feedback they got from me would appear on NRO. I felt silly the moment I’d sent it, but there it was. They responded by offering me 50 dollars more.
Everyone’s blown his top at an airline once or twice. When I simmered down, I started wondering just how air travel had gotten so bad. It used to be, you showed up at the airport, walked onto your plane 30 or 40 minutes later, got attentive service from a courteous flight crew, and arrived at your destination in a reasonably good mood. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 was designed to increase competition among airlines and let the free market make flying even better. That’s how free markets work. Where did it all go wrong? Obviously, the TSA is part of it, but only part. That’s too shallow an answer. The real reason is that, despite deregulation, there is no real competition among airlines. Why is that?
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Source: Air Travel: Ruined by the Left