Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Ever get the feeling that air travel is becoming impossible?
I don't mean that the physics underpinning flight has been found false. To my knowledge, planes do still take off.
But in recent years, air travel has come a long way from the luxurious pampering and glamour which it was known for in the Sixties and Seventies.
These days, Ryanair flights resemble cattle trucks, with the lame and the disabled abandoned on the tarmac as the other passengers scramble into the world's least comfortable space for a seat.
Other airlines are little different, and totally indifferent to the cares of customers as a recent run-in I had with allegedly decent airline Qantas revealed. (The allegation about Qantas being decent is one I can happily refute, incidentally.)
But now I get the impression that politicians are joining the airlines in making air travel almost impossible.
First the European Parliament decides to levy Green, 'Save the Planet', 'combat carbon emissions' charges upon air travel. In other words, their solution to climate change is that they're going to tax us.
That warped gnome Michael O'Leary warns that this could cost at least 50 euro on every ticket. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy, as he'll hike tickets at least that much and blame the Eurocrats, no matter what slice they carve off for themselves.
Then that bastion of democracy, the United States Department of Homeland Security, reveals that they want to replace air tickets and boarding passes with electric-shock bracelets, designed to torture any traveller at the press of a button.
For a lot of reasons, it looks like we're entering the endgame of the air travel era for the normal person.
Lack of fuel isn't one of those reasons (an excuse, but not a causal reason). The combination of shit service, prices hiked by state, superstate and providers, and finally conditions which now approach actual torture are the real reasons why we're going to start turning our backs on flight.
Which of course is going to make life interesting for anyone living on an unconnected island in the Atlantic.