The value proposition for business travel has
already been seriously eroded,
adversely impacted, especially on short and medium hauls. Cancel first/last
flight in many markets (the trips most used by business travelers to get in a
full day at destination), add time for security processing, add more for the
uncertainties that many of us have experienced and seen reported, add more if
you now need to retrieve a bag.
The resulting loss of productivity (which is most
of what airlines try to sell at
business fare levels) is driving some of the high fare market to Part 91/Part
135 operations, fractional, managed, subscription, etc. business jets,
video-conferencing, phone, email, and to abandon other trips altogether.
The only positive in the short term is the comparative
lack of congestion-related
delays. (Remember the "good old days" when congestion was the industry's
biggest problem?) LGA at 90% on-time. When did that last occur? (Probably
when LaGuardia was Mayor.) By the same token, however, we are apparently
not going to get above 77% of DCA schedules prior to 9/11. Why is this?
Seriously, what justification? And what justification for GA flight restrictions?
What is being reported as being proposed (a.k.a.
"free background and credit
check with every ticket") is overly broad, overly complex and provides no meaningful
benefit any time soon -- despite the claims of urgency, a two year development and
deployment timetable. Lots will happen in those two years, hopefully,
no more 9/11s or AA63s.
Let's not get into the potential for abuses that
will certainly occur with a proposal
whose scope far exceeds any existing consumer database or privacy concern.
Why make airline passengers, their families, employers and acquaintances
serve as test cases for a range of privacy issues?
And "Echelon" is far too expensive, too boot,
at the quoted $2 pewr passenger.
A few pennies per PNR (not per segment, not per trip, not per passenger)
is all that a targeted, relevant dynamic PNR scanning process need cost.
And with a two year development timetable, can you say "Cost Overrun"?
Airline Passengers: Golden Geese and Guinea Pigs, Combined?
Seriously, can we afford another poorly scoped
process that adds $2 per trip to
fares already impacted by new costs, taxes and fees? Airlines and their passengers
have always been viewed as Golden Geese, as fair game for multitude new taxes.
Network airlines struggle to make a few dollars
per passenger, net, in an average year.
These days, they need all the passengers they can find.
Every added dollar of airfare -- plus taxes --
plus fees -- simply drives more people out
of the market for air travel, and submarines the value proposition for air travel, adversely
impacting air travel and related spending.
The "Echelon" proposal, as reported, ought to
be marked DOA. If we want to go
back to the days when air travel was only for the chosen few Guinea Pigs,
this is a good start.
The broader, "Big Brother" issues are a
worthy topic for the next GAO inquiry,
perhaps a Supreme Court challenge.