Travel Nightmares

The ordeal of conventional airline travel turned up a notch this week. The thought of flying in today’s environment is anything but appealing. How long until we’re required to strip down to our skivvies to board the plane? Okay, so I was never a fan of commercial airlines. But the threat of a totalitarian transportation state is downright frightening. The Big Question: will our salvation come from high technology or from the old school?

This one is thwarted, or so they say. But if evildoers can bring down a plane with a bottle of sports drink and a camera, or a laptop, couldn’t they be really devious and build the damn thing into their clothing? Imagine if everyone had to swap their clothes and footwear for a set of official airline sweat clothes and slippers to be allowed down the boarding ramp. Now there’s a nightmare.

The well-heeled won’t have to bother, of course. They’ll all be flying on private charter jets. Change is coming for the rest of us, but it’ll take years until enough low-cost Eclipse Jets and the like are built to form a significant air taxi service capable of serving the masses. Honda expects to start accepting orders for their seven-seater HondaJet this fall, but production is still years away.

There’s always rail travel, of course – while it’s still funded. I’ll bet that rail bookings have jumped dramatically in the last few days, as folks scrubbed their plans for flying.

With the added delays, driving has become a very real alternative to shorter flights. Tack on the time you need to drive to your airport and tangle with parking (a full three hours before your flight), along with the hassles of arranging ground transportation on the other end and visa versa. Yuck! (Back in the mid ’90s, I worked for a company that insisted that I fly to Boston on business, when I could drive there in less time and for less money. I could never get them to see the light.)

What’s that? Your car sucks gas like there’s no tomorrow? How about renting a high MPG economy car with unlimited mileage?

It may be years away, but we can all look forward to the day when driving is cheap and easy, once again. Wired News reports that the uber geeks at MIT are on the case with a slew of cutting-edge technologies in the works, from ground-breaking research in battery and solar tech through significant developments in biofuels, it’s Geek Power to the rescue.

It can’t get here soon enough.