Summer break is quickly approaching. Many students are spending their final five weeks planning vacations. Exotic lands, different cultures and pleasurable sights await those who choose to leave the country. But before students enjoy these lands, cultures and sights, they must undergo the much-loathed process of air travel.
Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration released an annual report revealing a bleak future for airline travelers. This year, in the United States alone, 732 million airline passengers will take flight. The numbers are forecasted to grow annually, eventually to 1.2 billion by 2032.
If airline travel is a hassle now, imagine what it will be like when that number doubles in two decades.
There will be twice as many travelers checking in bags, waiting for security clearance and complaining that they have to sit next to a crying infant.
We should all reconsider other forms of travel. Trains, boats and automobiles have many advantages. You will enjoy the journey as well as the destination, which is more than air travelers can claim.
The struggle begins early on. When driving into the departing tier, a flood of traffic instantly hits. Taxis screech by, buses plow through, pedestrians straggle, sirens scream and loud speakers bark.
Then come the dreaded checkpoints, which are a complete waste of time for those unlucky drivers asked to stop, including myself.
At one checkpoint, an officer took the time to insult my car. “Your car is filthy and your headlight is out,” he said. “Is that bird crap?”
Security checkpoints are even worse. The lines grow long and the people grow impatient, enduring the interminable wait as best as they can. They stand in their socks as the air begins to turn as stale as the inside of a McDonald’s playhouse.
Flight delays are another common issue. They can quickly snowball into a traveler’s worst nightmare.
Imagine you’re on a business trip, and your flight is delayed — delayed, delayed and finally canceled.
The airline places you on the standby list while your traveling partner is placed on a flight the next morning.
You are separated. You have to navigate an unfamiliar city, look for the unfamiliar hotel your company reserved and pitch a product alone.
Thankfully the FAA began “undertaking the largest transformation of air traffic control ever attempted” according to its official website, referring to its new system called NextGen. The system will entirely restructure the handling of air traffic. This means quicker landings, quicker flights and, ultimately, fewer miles flown.
Until the FAA’s transformation occurs and upholds the claims declared on its website, staying away from airports is not a bad idea.
Consider other forms of travel that allow you to experience pleasant surroundings and not the snorer, drooler, crier, belcher, farter or hurler sitting next to you.
It’s a horror many of us have survived and would wish upon no one.
Andrew Gomez is a senior majoring in philosophy politics and law. His column “Bête Noire” runs every other Thursday.