Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Only Way to Fly!

Dangerously. Yes. The only way to fly these days is dangerously. First it was Southwest, but now American Airlines has found a way to screw up all sorts of travel plans.

900 flights today! Nearly 600 more tomorrow. ATA recently went bankrupt. Southwest put dangerous planes in the air. When does it end?

I'm sure another airline will be declaring bankruptcy soon. Or at least narrowly averting bankruptcy after deciding to stop serving peanuts as an in-flight snack.

Constantly, we are reminded of how much safer it is to fly on an airplane than to drive in a car. Statistically speaking, we have a better chance of being hit by lighting. The aviation industry loves to drive these numbers home in order to lessen fears that many have of hopping into a flying metal bird. And for the most part, the reassuring words appear to work. In the United States alone, there are over 30,000 commercial flights daily.

Yet, even with those numbers, airlines aren't making the financial killing you'd expect them to be making. Given the present gas climate, it will be increasingly difficult for airlines to remain fully operational and competitive in the market. The result may be a diminishing use of airline paralleled with rising airfare prices or a diminishing use or airlines due to the advent of new transportation technologies.

One place where there is potential for this to happen is good ol' California. While it would come about much to the dismay of Southwest Airlines and some other regional competitors, the California High Speed Rail Authority wants to give people a chance to Fly California without ever leaving the ground!

No, it isn't very likely that the high speed rail plans will come to fruition. Nevertheless, it is just one reminder of the need for airlines to regain their footing as the cutting edge line of transportation in the world. The current environment does not foster innovation or even the resources necessary to drive innovation. Instead of investing heavily in improvement, airlines are scrambling to cut costs and pinch corners as much as they possibly can. If another stewardess offers me a half-eaten bag of potato chips, there is gonna be some serious hell to pay.

I hate flying. I'm afraid of heights. But flying is a necessary evil. If allows man to defy his biological limitations, spread his wings and fly to all corners of the Earth. But most importantly, it allows me to fly into Vegas instead of taking a ridiculously long and boring and hot road trip into the desert. Something needs to be done to protect the public from the industry and the industry from itself.

Otherwise Southwest will never put those cool TVs that Jet Blue has onto its planes!

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