Air Travel Is More Miserable Than Ever. This Fits a Concerning Agenda.

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Moving where you want in pursuit of career opportunities and adventure has been part of the American psyche for a long time.  My family has been like that for decades, with the end result that we are now really, really scattered.  We still like each other; we often travel to see each other for the holidays thanks to air travel.  My dad has been traveling for work for a long time and has always been generous with frequent flyer miles to any family member tight on cash.  The airlines have made a lot of money from my extended family.

Until now.

Sure, everyone’s getting slammed by inflation.  But that’s only part of it.  Even if we could afford the tickets themselves, none of us can afford the uncertainty that comes with frequent delays.  And delays seem to be getting worse all the time.

Is air travel measurably worse?

Is this just due to a lack of balance between supply and demand, as people want to fly more but airlines struggle to re-hire all those folks laid off during lockdowns?  Might there be other forces at work that want to make air travel miserable?

I know we all have lots of horrible anecdotes, but let’s look at some data.

Lending Tree posted a table of historic delay and cancellation rates over the past ten years. In 2014, 21.99% of flights were delayed.  That percentage dropped below 20% in 2015, and stayed between 15 and 19% through 2019.  In 2020 and 2021, delayed flights fell below 11%, though those two years were flukes because of the lockdown-induced collapse in demand.

In 2022, though, delayed flights were back up to nearly 20%, and this year 21.60% of flights have been delayed so far.

But why is air travel so messed up?

There is not one thing that explains all the misery.  Some folks are blaming climate change. But a more compelling reason is the severe labor shortage.  In 20 out of 26 critical control traffic towers, staffing is well below the FAA’s required 85% threshold.  Airlines are short 17,000 pilots, 12,800 certified mechanics, and 3000 air traffic controllers.

The average salary for an airline pilot is $120,615 per year.   The average salary for an aircraft mechanic, whose training program is only about 24 months, is $67,840. The average salary for an air traffic controller is $94,260.

These are decent jobs. How come nobody wants them?

Maybe some of it is health-related.

Maybe it’s harder to find people that can physically do them.  Pilots have to meet certain health standards to be cleared to fly, and then must undergo periodic health checks to make sure they stay in shape.  They are required to retire at age 65, though there is talk of increasing that to 67 because of the shortage

The insistence on physical fitness is reasonable.  An older woman managing a store won’t kill all the customers if she has a heart attack at work.  The pilot might.

However, in October 2022, the FAA quietly amended the allowable electrocardiogram (EKG) range for pilots. They widened it to a point where it can accommodate pilots with cardiac injuries, something that had never been allowable before.

Maybe the FAA hoped no one would notice, but we’re a year past that change now, and the damage is becoming obvious.  Professional Australian pilot Captain Shane Murdock wrote a report just this past week that emergency calls have been skyrocketing the past few years. Pilots have a variety of codes they issue in emergencies, but code 7700 is the one used for severe distress, such as a health emergency or a fire in the cabin.

These calls are all tracked, and in 2018 and 2019, an average of 29.125 severe distress signals occurred each month.  In 2022, there was an average of 108.33 monthly distress calls.  In the first quarter of 2023, an average of 141.67 monthly distress calls were recorded.  Something happened between 2019 and 2022 that has made sudden health emergencies on planes far more common these days. But you can draw your own conclusions.

And naturally, mid-flight health emergencies lead to unplanned landings and delays.  One unplanned landing will typically have a cascading effect on many other flights.  And so the misery spreads.

Air traffic controllers are exhausted.

In-flight health emergencies aren’t the only thing making flying more nerve-wracking these days.  2023 has seen the most near-miss collisions on runways in decades.  Making sure planes navigate safely through runways is the responsibility of air traffic controllers, but for some reason, they don’t seem to be able to do their jobs anymore.

Part of this is overwork.  No one performs optimally when they’re exhausted.  Part of it is also that in 2014, the FAA ditched the test it had been using for decades for one aimed at making air traffic controllers more diverse. The FAA, under the Obama administration, prioritized “off the street” hiring over graduates of certified air traffic controller schools.  These graduates sued and won, and in 2018, Trump got rid of the new test that had been used to enable less-qualified candidates to enter the program.

But the damage was done.  The hiring and career path pipeline for the newer generation of air traffic controllers was severely damaged during the Obama administration, and now, as older controllers age out, we are seeing a massive shortage.

Then there’s the lack of privacy.

Fliers are losing their luggage at higher rates, too.  SITA, which handles IT issues for most airlines, admits that the industry has problems that need addressing.  Their solution?  Increased biometric data collection.

The push toward collecting biometric data for travel purposes began with mandating biometric data for entry into the US after 9/11, when Americans were understandably hyper-concerned about security.

But it wasn’t just traumatized Americans behind this.  In 2013, the World Economic Forum wrote a report about emerging strategies for biometric data collection, and on page 7, they discuss shifting consumer attitudes from being aware of their own privacy to placing more value on innovation and economic growth.

They want us to drop our principled privacy concerns for the sake of convenience.

And as travel became more part of professional life, dropping privacy concerns for the sake of speediness through airports really became necessary.  Misery in air travel has made travelers far more willing than they used to be to hand over their biometric information.  For example, in 2019 only 46% percent of passengers were willing to share their biometric data in order to make things move more smoothly.  By 2021, that number had leapt to 73%.

Facial recognition is optional for now.  We wrote about this years back when Atlanta rolled it out. Customers who are truly uncomfortable storing their biometric data can still opt out.  However, according the head of the TSA, opting out will no longer be an option in a few more years.  If you are not comfortable using your face as a boarding pass, you will not be able to fly.

Countries like China, India, and Iran already have extensive biometric data collection in place.  Americans and Europeans have been historically far more reluctant to hand over data, but the time may be coming when we have to choose between handing over our information and flying at all.

It might seem strange that airlines are seemingly so unconcerned about alienating customers, but airlines don’t run the world.  There are other, more powerful groups, that openly want to change air travel from something many families regularly utilize to spend time together, to a rare, heavily regulated occurrence.

We’ve talked about C40 on this website before.  In 2019, they issued a report in which they stated that by 2030, their progressive goal is for people to enjoy one short-haul flight every two years.  Their ambitious goal is to allow one short haul flight every three years. Many are eager to link a person’s alleged climate damage to their passports to disallow trips.

I guess military families with members stationed all over the world just aren’t supposed to see each other anymore.  No more long haul flights for anyone, ever.

Either agree or stop traveling. Either one is just what they want.

Air travel is getting pushed in a direction where it’s so miserable that people are either willing to hand over any data requested for the sake of less hassle or they just decide not to fly.  Both choices adhere to often cited goals of groups like C40.

Inflation has made my decision for me.  I’ve only flown twice in the past four years, though one of those was a long-haul flight because I’m closer to one coast and my parents are closer to the other.  How selfish of me to see my parents once every few years!  I don’t see myself taking any more plane trips any time soon.  But I am grateful that I have many good friends in my community.  I may not be with any blood relations this Thanksgiving weekend, but I won’t be alone.

Developing trusted local networks is something we bring up a lot on this website.  If you can still fly around to see loved ones, that’s wonderful.  For those of us who can’t, there has never been a better time to nurture our local connections.

What about you?

Do you fly regularly? Have you noticed it becoming more inconvenient and unpleasant? What do you think the reasons are? Alternatively, have you made the decision to stop flying? What was the thing that caused you to make that choice?

Let’s discuss it in the comments section.

About Marie Hawthorne

A lover of novels and cultivator of superb apple pie recipes, Marie spends her free time writing about the world around her.

Marie Hawthorne

Marie Hawthorne

A lover of novels and cultivator of superb apple pie recipes, Marie spends her free time writing about the world around her.

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  • I used to fly quite a bit, but once TSA started the body imaging, I quit flying. Retired and vacationed out, now, so it’s mostly stay-cations or places within a day’s drive.

    The reason for the increased misery appears to be labor related; ATC, pilots, baggage handlers, etc. But the cure is for enough people to just quit flying to hurt the bottom line for the airlines, the unions whose members won’t be needed, and the .gov agencies that can be unfunded.

    Sadly, the actual choices being made are fly miserably now or wait and fly miserably later.

    Ray

    • I have not been on an airplane but once in my life. That was from L. A. over to Oahu, Hawaii and the year was 1984. I hated flying. Was sooooo nervous I thought I would have a heart attack. Never did it again except for 1986 when my ex-husbands tour was over in Hawaii, and we flew back to L.A. then drove across the USA to Florida. However, it’s mandatory for some people to fly b/c of their job or some people b/c they have to fly to a special hospital for some kind of treatment that they need. As for they there will be no flying that I know of… Vaccines and facial recognition or palm prints/fingers etc. NO THANK YOU!!!

        • That’s nice dear.
          Air travel has long been safer than other modes of travel.
          For those of us who know this and need to travel by air, this situation is problematic; it’s obvious they want to limit and control everyone’s movement.
          Those who comply or refuse to travel just give the controllers what they want.
          Stop complying.

  • Once TSA was installed, I decided to stop flying. Getting ‘felt up’ by a stranger in many ways like a criminal, many of the TSA agts reportedly LIKE groping passengers/ get their jollies that way. Now that biometric info is given and on its way to be mandated – just makes flying that less appealing. Nowadays, we use the phone and internet to keep in touch.

    • ROBIN, think of the hugs, kisses and great times with your friends and family. We still have cars; the gas is up but still under $4.00 in most places. How about driving to see anyone you wish to see?… Phones are okay and also the internet, but there is NOTHING like that one-on-one touch and conversation and showing up in person!!! Sharing a meal with those loved ones…
      Just food for thought dear.

  • The air traffic controller issue goes back to ray-gun firing them in the 80s. Mass hiring of replacements = mass retirements at the same time. Too many flights, too many airports, flights are too cheap, too much subsidizing from the taxpayers.
    Not to mention flying exposes you to a hotbed of germs. And we’ve all seen the increase in unruly passengers.

        • Putting your immaturity on gross display again, Selena?
          You sound like a 6 year old using phrases like, “ray-gun.”
          Are you not in your 60s or something like that?

    • Selena you made a bad spelling error. It is not spelled ray-gun it is spelled Butt-Plug aka Pot Hole Pete. He was hired by Joe Biden to be Secretary of Transportation to fix all of these air travel problems and every other transportation problem. Railroads, shipping, racist roads, you name it. Don’t you agree that things are so much better since he was hired. If not then you are a transphobe according to the woke democrat minions running things.

  • An innocent 64-year-old grandma in a wheelchair, I was just trying to take a Florida vacation in February, and was treated like a criminal.
    They patted me down like a prisoner–bra, crotch, and all! Never again will I pay them to insult and degrade me: if I can’t get there in the RV, I’m not going.

    • How awful for you; agreed: they treat honest people like criminals and degrade everyone. Used to, I’d thought I might take a bus or train again — they used to be safe but things have changed. smh

  • Greyhound has bigger seats than the big airbuses. The smaller jets to small airports are comfy, tho.
    But I find buses extremely uncomfortable after 6 or 8 hours.
    I have been concerned about rights violations and 2nd amendment violation and the groping/radiation choice for years, so I usually avoid flying.

    • NO to by any means defend the airline policies but I think they must check out each passenger for the safely of ALL of them… IF they don’t grope everybody then the one they did not might be ready to blow up the plane once it’s up in the air. Today, never know. And I think their maintenance crews are overworked and may skip some very necessary maintenance issues and the planes are NOT nearly as safe as they could be. You could NOT pay me to fly anywhere nowadays… And I remember hearing about how fast Covid spread on airlines with everyone stuffed into the planes the way they were… NOT worth the money to us.

      • Sorry, I call BS on your viewpoint. TSA has not stopped anyone from doing anything at all. And how in the world does TSA allow drunken passengers on an airplane to cause all sorts of mayhem when it is clear they were half in the bag before they ever got on? It happens all the time, YouTube videos galore on that topic. The morons in uniform are in very close proximity to passengers and can easily smell the alcohol on them. They have electronics to scan your body, others that can detect explosives. The theater of frisking everyone is just that, theater to prove to the public that they must kowtow and obey, its all about the illusion of control they attempt to project. Most couldn’t find a real job if they tried. All of them are a product of DEI, division, exclusion and intolerance. Rant over.

        • Ugh most of the inebriated passengers I’ve seen became inebriated after going through TSA. Doesn’t help in some small airports that the bar is right across from the boarding gate.

  • What killed flying? Budget airlines. That was the start in the race to the bottom. TWA and Pan Am and United had to compete with People’s Express. They went bankrupt. Then 9/11 happened. Then the scam-demic. I don’t know if there is some leftist master plan to keep us from moving about, but I do know that today’s air travel is just bus travel with wings.

    Remember when you dressed up to fly? You got a meal on the flight? You had space to recline? I remember a trip I took to New York and back in 1978. That flight cost $289. For coach. In today’s money that’s about $1500. I made the same trip last week. While I paid with miles, my wife and children flew for $383 each. That would have been about $80 in 1978.

  • Wow! After reading all these stories I consider myself very lucky that I haven’t had any issues. I typically fly once yearly but my husband flies a few times a year for work. We do take precautions to help with smooth travels such as trying to get direct flights if available, not checking luggage and using a smaller local airport when available. We did refuse to fly when the covid restrictions were in place as we wouldn’t subject ourselves to any of the airline requirements.

    • I hope you understand that the covid restrictions were only a test run. They’re planning much worse in the (near) future.
      Realize this: THEY DON’T WANT US FLYING.

  • I love my car. Besides, flying the not-so-friendly skies with a pilot who may keel over from a blood clot isn’t my idea of a good time. If they come after my car, I guess my horse and I are hitting the pavement.

  • Yikes! I hate flying now! Used to be fun, now it is staggering the amount of government abuse involved in the process. Give me an RV; my dogs can go, I can cook my own meals, I have my own bed with no bed bugs to worry about,I can stop and “tourist” if I want to, I have no crowds or maniacs to deal with other than other drivers. Never getting on another plane. To Europe or Alaska or Hawaii? Take a good cruise ship.

  • I live overseas so I travel back to the US each summer. This is what I have noticed: most airlines are nice when it comes to international travel. Since I get most of my miles with One World, I use them a lot. Qatar Airways and British Airways are always great. BUT, once I arrive in the US for a connecting flight on American Airlines, the quality really goes downhill.

    For example, the British Airways flight was pleasant and the pilot was joking in the usual British dry humor. On the American flight, the pilot was telling us to wear socks, not to stick our feet between the seats in front of us, put them on the walls – stuff like that.

    A lot of it is hard to put my finger on. I mean, the US-based planes are clean. It’s just a different “vibe” and not a good one. It just seems more trashy flying in the US compared to elsewhere.

  • In the 1990s and early 2000s I flew often for work and for pleasure and it was a fun experience. The planes were roomier, most people were in a great mood, there was real food provided, and it wasn’t that expensive. I have flown three times this year, all for family reasons. Once was for a death in the family and the price was astronomical. Unfortunately, our family is all over the country and if I want to see them, I just don’t have the time required to drive so flying is the only way. But it has become very uncomfortable, expensive, and stressful. To say nothing of the privacy issues. I can totally see myself stopping except for very rare reasons.

  • I dunno, I don’t seem to look at it the same I guess. I can’t be near the TSA 5G machines without getting heart racing & palpitations so I opt out & get pat down. It’s always a female with a female & I have experienced very friendly nice women that explain everything they will do. I mean really, once you give birth, is there really anything embarrassing anymore?!! It may not be necessary but the price I pay to hopefully ‘catch’ a real criminal. I don’t call the back of a hand going over my lined bra as being groped but that’s just me.

    We fly a few times a year & hubby monthly. We were part of the Southwest fiasco last year where we kept hearing announcements that they were ‘waiting’ on pilots & crew. We knew it was probably staff flipping off the airlines for their mistreatment & restrictions they put on them during convid. We didn’t blame them. We weren’t upset with the delays (it WAS a holiday weekend which was stupid of us to travel during). I do get concerned with hubby’s amount of radiation he’s getting but he will never get pat down.

    I do get annoyed with the lack of consistency of airport TSA’s. There are so many inconsistencies it’s confusing. And most are very rude like we know their job.

    The germs circulating through the airplanes completely gross me out but I ramp up my immunity before & after we fly. And just never use the toilet! :0) Hubby notices that sometimes he says it seems they pump something into the air where alot of people on some flights just dose off more than usual or seem dopey/zombie (maybe the cabin pressure was ramped up to subdue?? I dunno).

    If they mandate again, peace out. We will drive. And we’re not visiting our daughter in the UK probably ever. She’ll have to fly home.

  • Well, the average age of major airports in the US is 40 years old. The youngest airport is Denver International at 20 years old.
    The volume of air travel has likely exceeded the capacity for they were designed for when first built.
    And, in many cases they are severely limited in real estate. Not just for terminal expansion but all the infrastructure that goes along with it. The only place I have seen a elevator for an airplane is on an aircraft carrier, and a F/A-18 is a weee bit smaller than a Airbus A380.
    TSA, know how to pack and dress for it, it is relatively painless.
    Airplanes themselves, does not help when the air plane manufactures have shrunk the seat space at behest of the airlines to pack more in per flight, while the average American waist line has expanded.
    Then there are the people themselves.
    Ever have a passenger fall asleep on your shoulder?
    Yes, I have seen people take their shoes and socks off. Even saw a pair of socks left on the plane while de-boarding.
    That one guy who thinks he is special and puts his feet in the isle when the stewardesses are trying to do beverage service. I make it a point to always smile and say thank you to them.
    On more than one occasion, I have seen people who looked like they just rolled out of bed with their pajamas still on, to include slippers.
    The six year old, running rampant in the gate area with no apparent parental units in the area.
    The yahoo standing in the middle of the concourse, their pull along carry on behind them, staring into their phone, while throngs of people are forced to go around them.
    Or the same yahoo standing in the middle of the automated walkway.
    Just read about some woman on a airplane who tried to recline her seat back, but the people behind her kept pushing her seat up. She lost her $hi*. Who is in the right in that one? Again, I blame the air plane manufactures and the airlines themselves for that one. When I can, I will pay extra for the comfort seating or volunteer for the Exit Seating.
    Now, we think airline travel is bad in the US.
    Try it in a third world country sometime. Without the regulations the US has, there has been more than a few times I was wondering who is flying the plane, a six year old? Once, the pilot hit the run way on landing so hard, the plane bounced.

  • I gave up flying around seven years ago. I was sick of being treated as a terrorist at airports. Everyone is, but most people seem to tolerate it quite well. The final straw was when the same “security” company as was doing “security” at Boston’s Logan airport took over “security” at Gatwick, London, and was forcing everyone to go through the terahertz, untested body scanners that cause the security personnel themselves to get cancers (no surprise there – I was paying attention when these were introduced after 9/11). I was thrown out of Gatwick because I refused to go through the body scanner, and then two months later I was thrown out of Heathrow, London, for the same reason. And again treated like a terrorist. I was led out of the security area with one armed policeman in front of me and another one behind. I’d committed no crime, done nothing wrong, just refused to have my health compromised by doing through the body scanner. But everyone coming the other way into the boarding gate area averted their eyes, as if they were terrified that they would be treated the way I was. So much for standing up for your rights! Act like slaves and you will be treated as one.
    Look out for “iris-at-a-distance” scanners in airports. They look like normal security cameras, but instead of being discreet, they draw your eye by having a rotating light at the bottom. Look and your iris is scanned. Heathrow introduced iris scanning for changing terminals around seven years ago so the UK government will by now have thousands if not millions of irises on their databases by now.
    Oh, and by the way, that same “security” company happens to be staffed by supposedly former agents from one particular country’s notorious security agency. They run airport “security” for most of the airports around the world. Is it “security” or is it the same kind of “security” as provided by the mafia? Suffice it to say that all the airport “terrorist” events seem to have occurred at or from airports where this company is providing “security”. Nothing to worry about, though, just a coincidence, I’m sure.

    • Thank You Sei. The globalists flood countries with illegals. Encourage crime in very way imaginable. Their puppets attack political opponents to their treachery. The most obvious example being Donald Trump and the latest example being MMA legend Conor McGregor for criticizing woke idiocy in Ireland like the prime minster of Ireland encouraging migrants to vote. Millions of non citizens voting will more than likely be encouraged by the globalist owned msm and their puppet democrat party in the upcoming presidential election in the US.

      The globalists solution for all of the civil disorder problems they are deliberately creating is a police state right out the novel 1984. Problem – Reaction – Solution. People are being directed like rats in a maze to a predetermined globalist solution.

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