Saturday, January 9, 2010

So I guess air travel is now out of the question

For me, air travel is steadily losing its allure. Five-hour delays to get on the airplane, overzealous security, which doesn’t seem particularly effective anyway, a virtual elimination of “carry-on”, an increasing level of theft of items in checked luggage and cramped seats in the affordable section of the airplane have combined to discourage me from taking my annual vacation anywhere to which I would have to fly.

I have never been a great lover of travel when a long flight in cramped seats is involved. The last time I suffered through an economy flight was to England in 2005. I flew Air Transat from Toronto Airport and was about to claw my hair out when we finally landed in the UK. We upgraded to “Club Class” for our flight home and quite enjoyed that leg of the trip, but I can’t really afford the higher charge.

At that time, we had to arrive at the airport two to three hours ahead of the scheduled time of departure. From what I read and hear, the pre-boarding time spent at the airport has increased significantly since then. Add to that the indignity of full body scanning, the virtual elimination of carry-on luggage and the increased cases of theft from checked luggage and air travel seems unattractive enough to be avoided in all but emergency situations.

When I travel, I like to take a lot of photographs—it’s my principal reason for going to faraway places—but I’m never going to check my expensive gear and risk it being lost or stolen. With carry-on restrictions, however, I doubt I’d be allowed to take my gear on board. So I’d probably have to leave most of my gear behind and take a compact camera when I travel—sorts of defeat the purpose of investing in pro-quality equipment.

Consequently, for the immediate future, I will restrict my to travel to places I can reach by car.

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  1. That raises a good question. If theft from checked baggage is on the increase, what does that say in itself about the state of airport security?

  2. I just flew from Florida to BC on three flights (in one day...). I had no trouble with my carry-on baggage so that begins to sound like a DoT kneejerk thing, not a U.S. imposed one. I went through security without a beep, so no body scan. My wife has a titanium hip so she beeped and got scanned, although I don't think white females "of a certain age" are terrorist threats. We are certainly overdue on profiling and doing checks BEFORE people line up in their hundreds at a check-in or security chokepoint.

  3. My wife and I are considering a train trip...Amtrak across the U.S. all because of the reasons you cite regarding air travel.

    Take that, Air Canada!