Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Second Thoughts for Frequent Flyers

More than 50 million Americans a month board commercial airliners to go somewhere. In view of events from 9/11 to the recent Christmas Day unpleasantness, it may be time to revive memories of World War II posters asking, "Is your trip necessary?"

Now that any demented fellow passenger could be planning to blow them out of the sky, the question comes back with renewed force.

My own Luddite tendencies go back over half a century when, on a business flight, the thought occurred to me after growing up when air travel was rare, "I'm sitting here in a big tube in the sky having lunch."

Where are all those millions from later generations going today and why and, if new security burdens are adding time, aggravation and expense to their trips, should they reconsider making them in the first place?

In an age of telecommuting, how much business travel is still vital or simply a 20th century habit that's hard to break? How many vacation trips are prompted by a boredom perhaps better assuaged by other pursuits than mindless hyperactivity around the world?

In the short term, the airline and tourist industries would suffer, but there could be the benefit of less national reliance on those countries whose oil revenues are financing the terrorists who want to blow us up.

Going through the sure-to-come indignities of long waits to have their crotches X-rayed, today's frequent flyers may want to use the time to give new thought to that old question, "Is your trip necessary?"

Doing so would not be letting the terrorists "win," just forcing them to find new ways to use our affluence against us.

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