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More Turbulence for Air Travelers

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I could blame bin Laden for this, but really it is the government’s failure to craft a better system:

From the American Airlines Web page:

As a result of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) mandate, beginning November 1, all passengers will be required to have Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) in their reservation at least 72 hours prior to departure. This is the next phase in a program that was initiated by the TSA in 2009. 

Business air travel has basically compacted the nation to the point that you can almost treat an airplane as an in-city bus.  Kinda.  Before 9/11 it was absolutely common to walk up to a ticket counter, buy a ticket, and walk on the plane 10 minutes later.

If the TSA has destroyed this then I hope the airlines like the fact that the day of the $1,000+ seat sale (I bought many at that sort of outrageous-inflated "last second" price) is over and done, and they likewise may be over and done.

If airlines cannot collect high per-seat revenue from “last second” fliers, they’ll have to make it up by charging everyone else more. The basic “sticker” price of leisure travel tickets will being going up again. Every increment upward crosses psychological thresholds that discourage air travel. And we already face added baggage fees and meal fees, plus the TSA hassles at check-in.

Airlines have already reduced capacity to keep planes full and thereby make flights profitable. But with fewer fliers, they’ll have to reduce capacity more. For the traveler, that means fewer choices of flight times—another inconvenience. For the broader economy, reduced airline capacity mean more parked airplanes and fewer aircraft sales.

Parked planes do not require maintenance. Planes not built do not employ engineers and production workers. So there’s less labor and less value added to the economy. Compounding the loss, these are high-paying jobs in a sector where the U.S. still is a manufacturing leader.

What seems like a small regulatory requirement has a high hidden cost. When the transportation and manufacturing sectors continue lagging, few will likely notice the unseen hand of government holding them back.

For those who might argue that security is too important, and this is a price worth paying:

If the TSA had any brains at all somewhere within it they would handle this quite simply by allowing an immediate and instant bypass for anyone presenting a valid United States passport at the ticket counter, and equip the check-in stations with passport readers.  While theoretically a passport is only required for international travel creating an effective requirement for one for "instant travel" inside the US isn't terribly onerous and it is a document considered secure enough for entry into the country - it damn sure ought to be good enough to get on an airplane.

Security is important. Inefficient security may cost more than insecurity, if we take the time to look at hidden costs and alternative strategies.


I'm curious to know just how many bad guys will be stopped with this new policy. I mean, if you're a terrorist with half a brain, wouldn't you make sure the info you give, including I.D., doesn't ring any alarm? That's the kind of terrorist we need to stop, and this won't help one bit. It WILL help empty my bank account though.

Seems like another instance of the law applying only to the good guys.

It strikes me that the focus should be on stuff that can cause harm/damage, not on keeping files on citizens. Who cares the malice in men’s hearts if they are powerless to fulfill it…