AIR TRAVEL UPDATE: Despite being worn out from filling orders for “Impeach Norm Mineta” bumperstickers, Gary Leff is all over the issue of airline security’s impact on the airline industry.
Even if the airlines were going out of their way to make flying a pleasant experience — which no one suggests is the case — the long delays required while people confiscate G.I. Joe guns would change people’s economic calculus: a trip that’s worth doing if it can be done there-and-back in a day may not be worth it if you have to spread the travel over two days. That’s going to cost the airlines business, and it has. At the high end, everything I hear indicates that people are shifting to charters and fractional-ownership arrangements. Elsewhere, people are driving, or just not going. And teleconferencing seems to be more popular.
And the problem for the airlines is that this business won’t come back. People who get used to flying charters won’t hurry back to commercial service. People who teleconference won’t rush to fly in the future.
All of this might be worth it if it were making us safer. But it isn’t. Screeners are still missing a huge percentage of guns, knives, etc.
The point of the whole exercise isn’t even to prevent terrorism, really. It’s to fool us into feeling safer. I don’t think it’s working, but it’s taking the airline industry down in the process. I think my next Fox column will expand on these themes.
Meanwhile, if you feel the same way, well, you can get your Impeach Norm Mineta bumpersticker here. Buy a few and send ’em to your Senators and Congresscritter.
UPDATE: Jay Caruso has weighed in with more.