Sunday, January 20, 2008

AIR TRAVEL HAS ITS PLACE, BUT ITS PLACE IS NOT UBIQUITOUS

Southern Winter Storm Forces Major Flight Disruptions

By Del Quentin Wilber Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, January 20, 2008; A11

Hundreds of airline flights were canceled yesterday and thousands of passengers endured lengthy delays after a winter storm showered rain, sleet and rain over major hub airports in the Southeast.

More than 800 flights were canceled to and from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport -- about a quarter of the airport's total daily operations, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Near-freezing temperatures and a wintry mix of precipitation also caused lengthy delays and cancellations at Charlotte's airport, a major hub for US Airways.

. . . Less than an inch of snow fell across much of Atlanta, but temperatures that hung around freezing all day caused other snarls at the airport: Aircraft were waiting 90 minutes to two hours to be de-iced before they could safely take off, Bergen said.

--read entire article--

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Aha--an inch of snow. Well, there you have it. Reason enough for the travel plans of tens of thousands to be upset.

Air travel has become an acceptable (if uncomfortable and inconvenient and frustrating and demoralizing and personally repugnant and unreliable) form of transportation over extreme distances.

But it sucks as a way to get from downtown Chicago to downtown Minneapolis, a less that two-hour comfortable Bullet-Train run and an agony of shoes-off chanciness by plane. But of course, for it to be comfortable and fast, a Bullet-Train would have to exist.

They exist in Japan, where the distances are small, but the intelligence factor is high.

They do not exist in America, where the distances are much more relevant to high-speed rail, but the intelligence factor is--well--draw your own conclusion.

Given the choice of a stroll over to the Bullet-Train in Chicago, for a leisurely and comfortable two hour stretch of the legs and easygoing early dinner on board --or-- a hectic and unmanageable ticket line at O'Hare, complete with the tension and snarliness of airport personnel, ending in a lineup at runway A-4, breathing the jet-fumes of the plane ahead . . .

. . . ah well, you get my drift. Check out an alternative.


* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Public Transportation, check out Opinion-Columns.com