After the election: the state of air travel in America

My favorite pilot columnist is taking on the U.S. presidential election this week. It’d take a new twist to get me reading any more thoughts about the effects and reverberations either Obama or McCain will have as president. I’m heartily sick of the entire show, and think it should be illegal to let sitting legislators spend 18 months to 2 years running for a different job. We’ve heard about their platform issues ad nauseum, and then ad nauseum again.

However. There are plenty of issues not being talked about, ones that will be crucial to the safety and comfort of Americans’ futures, but also the futures of people traveling through the country by plane. Patrick Smith, that pilot columnist, isn’t holding back on this, his last post before the election. America’s flight infrastructure is in dire need of upgrading. Airline schedules need consolidation and rethinking to get rid of rampant congestion and delays. Smith calls the current U.S. airport security checks a “charade,” but doesn’t see either presidential candidate changing it without serious public outcry. With the advent of the “registered traveler” bypasses, he points out that people can now pay to get around the security rules, rather than hope to see them enforced.

Smith doesn’t see much changing with either Obama or McCain, except negatively. With the weird tendency American citizens have to vote completely counter to their own interests, pilots, Smith says, will likely be voting Republican, which means McCain, which means someone who will work against trade unions and better wages for blue-collar workers — like pilots.

Smith also addresses the peculiar insularity of the American traveler, an insularity that, given the shortsighted worldview, self-interest, and lack of education about the world that most Americans show, I don’t see changing anytime soon, no matter who wins the election. But in less than a week, it’ll all be over, and maybe I’ll feel a little less opinionated about my countrymen. Or at least stop having their worst failings constantly touted on the evening news.

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