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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

On Icarus' wings

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.


Missing Neighbour said...

Things won't be too bad for us here in Ireland. It will just be back to the good old days of taking the car on the ferry to Europe. Sure it adds a few days to the travel section of the holiday, but maybe we will all start to enjoy it again.
On the other hand for those of us who happen to live in or indeed for those of us who want to travel to the Americas or Australia it could pose some significant problems.
I try not to get too annoyed about these types of things. The way I see it is that market forces will take care of it in the long run. The current draconian security measures and the complete pain in the arse formerly known as 'Air Travel' will have to change as soon as people get significantly fed up with it all and just decide to stay at home. Now if global warming would just get a move on so that we could start having some decent weather in the summer. I think I will switch every single light and appliance on in the house and go and burn a huge pile of tyres in the back garden, just to give it a wee hand.

JC Skinner said...

Speaking as someone harbouring ambitions to visit long-haul destinations like the Americas and Australasia at some point in the future, I do find this a pretty poor development.
I don't fancy the electro-shock bracelets at check in, the rugby scrum to get on the plane, one last wave out the window to the crying cripple who couldn't get on, and then 14 hours in cattle class, all for the cost of my annual wage, which gets split 50/50 between the EU and Michael O'Leary.
But that, it seems, is where we're going.

Missing Neighbour said...

Here is an interesting article:


JC Skinner said...

Never mind 'Take back the night'. Now it's take back the flight!

Peter Slattery said...

Electric shock bracelets?! I'm telling you, once that idea goes by the wayside, they'll try to introduce a policy of sedating all passengers for the duration of the flight. Watch this space!

JC Skinner said...

"Pillow, sir? Now, would you like the ether or the morphine?"
Makes a change from Beef or Chicken, I suppose.

Informer said...

Lets float around the globe in big cities. Soon there will be no where to land anyway with the rising sea levels thanks to the Chinese and other states going industrial now!

Check out the link, pretty cool.

JC Skinner said...

I want one of those for Xmas!

Pat said...

Had the pleasure of 4 Ryanair flights last week. Was so cramped and sore after 1 leg I got a taxi into Rome instead of the Bus. Cost €60 which added more to my so call low cost journey.

JC Skinner said...

Ouch, Pat. I feel your pain.

Fastnet Line said...


Should have gone by the sea!!

Worth a view if you need a laugh