Sunday, July 20, 2014

Air Travel Sucks

Don't be fooled by the fancy new paint job. It's pretty much the same plane your grandfather used decades ago.

We've all been there. Checking your bags with the psychotic caffeine deficient clerk. Going through the TSA security checkpoint, groped and scanned like you're the antichrist. Then you sit and wait at a musty old terminal, possibly sipping an overpriced cup of burnt coffee from the nearby Starbucks, trying to avoid eye contact with the serial killer sitting across from you.

But I don't want to talk about any of that. I'm talking about the actual air travel itself. Just think about it for a second. You start off taxiing on the runway for thirty minutes, the infected "air-conditioned" air contaminating your lungs. Then, you take off. The hunk of junk Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 you're riding roars to life, lifting off the tarmac in such a reluctant fashion that you're usually surprised the metal deathtrap actually managed to fly.

Then, depending on your destination, you sit through hours of lousy food, poor entertainment, cramped seating, and smelly people sitting beside you, drooling on your sleeve. And what do you get for all that? A controlled crash landing, where the plane screeches to a halt just seconds before flying off the edge of the road, into oblivion.

Why are we still flying like this? Why hasn't somebody figured out a way to make planes faster and more comfortable during the past sixty years? The airline industry is one of the only ones I can think of where you could switch it out with a version from the 70s, and most people wouldn't tell the difference.

Shouldn't we have supersonic planes by now? Planes with leg room? Planes that take off and land vertically? Nope...we're still stuck with the narrow aisles, dilapidated seats, and snooty flight attendants we had before.

I know there are reasons for this, the main one being that people want the cheapest fares possible, meaning that airline companies like Boeing produce planes that meet the bare minimum of being able to reach your destination without dropping out of the sky like a oddly shaped chrome rock.

If I had to make a bold prediction, I'd say that we'll be replacing air travel with something far quicker and more pleasant soon. High-speed rail might be the answer if we can build up the infrastructure for it. If history tells us anything, we'll always find a way to get to places faster and in a more efficient manner. 

I mean, come on, there has to be a better way of traversing long distances than flying all cooped up in a metal tube designed in the 70s at speeds that would make your great grandmother look like a cheetah (relatively speaking, of course).

Until we get a change, I'll keep watching Star Trek, wishing that I could "energize" myself to places like they do...

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