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2011: Record Year For Airline Safety 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the tsa-rushes-to-take-credit dept.
smitty777 writes "Unless something bad happens in the next two days, we are on track for having a new record for airline safety. The new record of one death for every 7.1 million passengers beats the 2004 record of one to every 6.4m. The WSJ also notes: 'Another low is the total number of passenger deaths; as of today that number stands at 401. Though it was lower in 2004, when 344 passengers were killed in commercial aviation accidents, that year saw 30% fewer passengers as well as far fewer flights. Western-built planes have fared best, with one major crash per 3 million flights, the best number since the International Air Transport Association began tracking crashes in the 1940s. When factoring in other types of airliners, the crash rate is about two per million flights. We are also in the midst of the longest period without a fatal airliner accident in modern aviation; nobody has died in an airliner since an Oct. 13 propeller plane crash in Papua New Guinea. The previous record was 61 days in 1985.' Russia, and counties linked to it, are the only areas that saw a drop. 2011 also seemed to break the record for unusual airline travel events as well."
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2011: Record Year For Airline Safety

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  • nice (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:31PM (#38539956)

    im sure we can attribute this to the TSA, right? right?

    • by danbuter (2019760)
      I'm pretty sure the number of people who fly is down thanks to them not wanting to deal with the TSA, so it is indirectly responsible. Less people flying = less planes in the air = less chance of accidents.
      • Re:nice (Score:5, Informative)

        by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:00PM (#38540298) Homepage Journal

        You should note it was based on per people flying.

        And very, very, few people don't fly because of the TSA. serious, it MIGHT be 500 hundred people per year, maybe.

        Also, more people flew this year then last year.

        • I know several people who now drive rather than fly due to TSA. I guess that If they were to go far enough they would fly, but on other trips where driving can a option, but a longer one, they drive. I am sure the number of flight seats not taken due to TSA is far more than 500. Added to privacy issues are increased costs due to security requirements. This too will reduce the amount of flying people are doing.

          On side note: You are correct that this is based on air travelers worldwide. I would wager
          • by pjt33 (739471)

            The TSA has some influence outside the US, in the sense that I'll gladly pay more to fly a route which doesn't include the US. (As a side-effect, and given the hub-based nature of airlines, I'm also paying more to not fly with US airlines).

        • by danbuter (2019760)
          I'd love to find out where you got this statistic.
        • Re:nice (Score:5, Informative)

          by HBI (604924) <kparadine@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:42PM (#38540846) Homepage Journal

          And very, very, few people don't fly because of the TSA. serious, it MIGHT be 500 hundred people per year, maybe.

          That sounds like a hard statistic.

          Also, more people flew this year then last year.

          That's probably true, but the statistics aren't available yet from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics [bts.gov], so you can't prove it.

          I can, however, prove that the population is larger this year than last year, by about 2 million. I can also demonstrate that the population [census.gov] has increased from 281.5 million in 2000 to about 311 million this year, over a 10% increase. There has been no commensurate increase in airline passengers. So your entire point is demonstrably false.

          • by artor3 (1344997)

            If the point you are trying to disprove is "very few people don't fly because of the TSA", you can't refute it by pointing out a lack of commensurate increase in airline passengers as compared to the population, because, say it with me, correlation does not equal causation.

            The fact that the number of airline passengers per capita has decreased in the time that the TSA has existed says absolutely nothing about whether or not the TSA caused that decrease. Maybe it was the rough economy and constantly shrinki

          • by Ihmhi (1206036)

            So your entire point is demonstrably false.

            Or, in layman's terms:

            "Bitch, please!"

        • by sjames (1099)

          The TSA might turn 500 a year away, but most of the decline it's responsible for decide not to fly in the first place. Some explicitly because they hate dealing with the TSA, some also to boycott the whole thing, and some simply because the TSA related expenses drove the cost of flying above the threshold price for their decision or the added time made driving faster.

        • by Doc Ruby (173196)

          I have cut down on my flying since the TSA got so invasive. It's definitely a factor when choosing the hassle of flying over doing something else.

          And I'm sure I'm far from the only one.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          The TSA might not discourage many people from flying within the US (although some people who used to fly short hop commuter airlines probably drive or take the train now), but they do discourage people from flying to or through the US.

          I'll go to great lengths to avoid connecting through the US because it involves a minimum 40 minute trip to the special room.

      • Re:nice (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Friday December 30, 2011 @04:07PM (#38541770)
        I doubt many people are choosing to drive over flying due to 'liquids and gels' rules, groping and the like. However, they are probably doing it over time concerns. If it's an hour to drive to the airport and park, 30 minutes to check in, 30 minutes to get through security, 30 minutes standing at a packed gate area, 30 minutes to board and 45 minutes on the tarmac for 60 minutes in the air, well then a four hour drive with a bag of doritos between your legs and a big gulp in the cupholder doesn't seem so bad...
        • by tibit (1762298)

          A 60 minute flight is more like 8 hours in the car...

          • by LDAPMAN (930041)

            Oklahoma City to Dallas is scheduled at 55 minutes gate-to-gate. It's a 3 hour drive. It is usually faster to drive when you consider the total travel time.

            • by tibit (1762298)

              They must fly very slowly, then. Columbus, OH to Chicago is the same duration, but I had it take 45 minutes take-off-to-landing a few times.

            • by blindseer (891256)

              It's also often cheaper to drive.

              I just did a price check on a flight out to my sister's place for spring turkey hunting. The flight would cost about $350. At about 1700 miles round trip I'd figure the fuel would cost me about $350 for fuel to drive. So far I break even.

              Now, if I were to fly I'd have to pay to park my truck at the airport for the duration of my trip, or pay for a cab to pick me up. If I'm lucky I can find a buddy willing to wake up early, and/or miss time from work, to take me to the ai

              • by countach (534280)

                Car maintenance: depreciation, tyres, etc etc can easily double the raw fuel cost. You need to consider that.

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      HAHAHAHAHA!

      Nope.

      But this year they did spend another $8.1 billion dollars. Or as of May 2011 it was $835.9 billion [nationalpriorities.org]. Or about $281 million dollars for each person who died in the 9/11 attacks. That doesn't include the defense budget used to bomb the shit out of the middle east.

      $8.1 billion, and the only thing I've gotten out of it was felt up at the airport. And I didn't even get a "happy ending" with it... Come on, they make the privacy room

    • Well maybe?
      You should work out the numbers and see if your hypothesis is correct or not.

      Except for jumping to a quick conclusion. Analysis Airports that are under the TSA and ones that are not, compare fatalities with comparable aircraft. Check with other countries that might have similar rules for aircraft safety.

      You can go half cock and just give an opinion based on your like or dislike of an issue, or you can use Science and Math to test you opinion with facts.

      If you are right cool, if you are wrong hey
  • How does it compare (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mehrotra.akash (1539473) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:31PM (#38539962)
    How does it compare to rail/car/ship travel?
    • by hedwards (940851)

      Quite favorably, auto fatalities are down, at least in the US, but they still outnumber airline fatalities for the entire world by a huge margin.

      One of the big problems with the TSA is that they scare people into taking more dangerous forms of transportation out of a misplaced sense of fear. Terrorism is something to be fought and prevented, but in the grand scheme of things more people die of injuries from car crashes every year than terrorism.

      • by tylernt (581794) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:55PM (#38540248)

        One of the big problems with the TSA is that they scare people into taking more dangerous forms of transportation out of a misplaced sense of fear

        I don't think my fear of the TSA or the government it serves is misplaced. I'd say it's pretty well-founded.

        • by artor3 (1344997)

          It's really not. What percentage of passengers are killed by the TSA? What percentage are killed by accidents on road trips?

          How many Americans does the US government kill each year? How many die from eating at McDonald's too often?

          You'll find the results to be against your current conceptions by orders of magnitude. You can oppose erosion of civil liberties without resorting to the hyperbole of claiming the government is this big, evil, dangerous behemoth. Such exaggerations only drive away rational pe

          • It's really not. What percentage of passengers are killed by the TSA?

            We won't know until the results of the long term studies are in. Give us a ring in 15-20 years.

            It might be possible to estimate, if we could get some independently verified numbers on the radiation doses they're inflicting.

            And that's just the direct kills. The time-person kills are much, much higher. There were about 700 million air passengers in the US in 2010. If the TSA increases the length of time they spend doing bullshit (waiting in line, getting papers in order, obtaining lunch.. anything at all

            • by artor3 (1344997)

              The cancer bit, fine. The dose doesn't seem like it would be enough to kill any passengers (TSA agents manning the things might be a different story) but stranger things have happened. I sincerely doubt it will compare to car crashes though. Few things can.

              But "time-person kills"? Are you kidding me? Nobody plans their life to the second. Ten minutes earlier at the airport means ten minutes less sleep, or ten minutes less watching TV. To compare that to killing a person is so shockingly myopic I bare

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sneezer (131771)

      > How does it compare to rail/car/ship travel?

      Airplanes are much, much faster.

      "Hello, airplanes? Yeah, it's blimps. You win!"

      • by Ichijo (607641)

        Airplanes are much, much faster.

        Except when they're slower than bicycles [usatoday.com]!

        • by Bucky24 (1943328)
          At first glance one would think that the airplane itself is slower then a bike. However, the person flying got to the airport an hour early (as is customary, to get through security), thus giving the bikes an hour's head start (on a trip that only takes a bike 90 minutes). The title of that article is very misleading. But the article itself is interesting.
          • by Ichijo (607641) on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:34PM (#38540754) Homepage Journal

            If velocity is distance divided by time, and you're using the curb-to-curb distance and the curb-to-curb time (from the time you enter the airport to the time you exit the airport at the other end), then airplanes are not so quick for shorter distances.

            This is what makes high speed rail faster than airplanes for distances up to about 400 miles.

            The original question was, "How does [flying] compare to rail/car/ship travel?" And the answer given was, "Airplanes are much, much faster." But that is not always true.

            • by tibit (1762298)

              If you're taking a jet -- true. If you're taking a small plane, then you will pretty much always beat the car over 400 miles. Just recently I flew on a single engine seaplane in Canada, and the whole procedure, without planning anything in advance, had an overhead of 5 minutes from walking in without even knowing what options are there to being on my way to the plane. We were airborne within 7 minutes of me signing the credit card slip. I know that such services are not available everywhere, but on a short

              • How did you find out about this service? Tell us more, please!

                • by tibit (1762298)

                  I just happnened to visit the harbour seaport on a walk. Any large city with lots of water and lots of population spread out on neighboring islands will probably have a company offering seaplane rides. It's fun as hell, even if you really need to use those hearing protectors if you'd want to do it frequently.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          I couldn't help but note the cyclist didn't have any luggage.

          • by jd2112 (1535857)

            I couldn't help but note the cyclist didn't have any luggage.

            When landing the airplane passenger didn't either.

            • by rts008 (812749)

              LOL! Valid point.
              You just can't win anymore.
              Since I was 'relieved' of my luggage three times in a row flying, had damaged property from luggage searches, etc., I have gotten in the habit of FedEx'ing my luggage.
              However, now that I fly with only a book to read, I have been flagged for more searches because I'm flying with no luggage.....SHEESH!

              • by sincewhen (640526)

                Perhaps you could employ some "mock luggage" full of weird, disgusting, embarrassing - but not dangerous - items.

    • Flying is safer by distance; but driving (a car) is safer by trip.

      In case it matters (shouldn't unless you're doing this for your job), flying is safer by hours.

      http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/risks_of_travel.htm [numberwatch.co.uk]

  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by assertation (1255714) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:33PM (#38539978)

    Now that they have safety nailed down, maybe in 2012 they can do something about forcing passengers to choose between getting groped or irradiated.

    • by acidradio (659704)

      Hey look, you can't have it both ways. You can either get there quickly and safely... but have to be groped by some sweaty "government employee"; or you can ride in comfort grope free... but gamble with dying in a fiery inferno. The choice is up to you.

      • but I got there quickly and safely before the TSA and W Bush

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Hey look, you can't have it both ways. You can either get there quickly and safely... but have to be groped by some sweaty "government employee"; or you can ride in comfort grope free... but gamble with dying in a fiery inferno. The choice is up to you.

        That would be true only if the groping or scanners were proven to be effective. Even if they were 100% effective at preventing someone from sneaking explosives onboard, there are many other ways to disrupt air travel and cause widespread panic (you only need to breach security at one airport anywhere in the country to breach security at all airports, you can hide explosives in lightly (if at all) inspected catering food, why take down a plane when you can blow up the security checkpoint with the same effect

      • by Beerdood (1451859)
        I choose option B - not getting groped, and I'll take that risk of dying in a fiery inferno. Could you direct me to an airline or airport where this option is available? Oh wait...
      • by sjames (1099)

        Actually, you can be perfectly safe and grope free. The TSA hasn't caught even one person in the whole time they've been active. However small it might be, evidence suggests that unregulated and unlicensed X-Ray generators used by unqualified personnel carry a greater risk than terrorism these days.

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

          I pick groped every time. They're asking me more often why I refuse the radiation. X-rays, microwaves, whatever, I'm not going to stand in your uncertified, uncalibrated ionizing emitting equipment [aolnews.com].

      • by ryanov (193048)

        I was most recently told at PBI "You know we don't use the X-ray type, it's the other one." I said, "yeah, that's not why I'm not doing it -- I'm not doing it because I think it's stupid."

        • Re:Great (Score:4, Insightful)

          by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@[ ]mythe.com ['jws' in gap]> on Friday December 30, 2011 @03:03PM (#38541090) Homepage Journal

          Fair enough. :) That used to be my reason, until they kept escalating the dangerousness of the equipment being used.

              I just spent a few days in the hospital, and got dosed with probably as much radiation as I should be exposed to in a year. At least at the hospital I know they're generally monitored, but they have failures too [nytimes.com]. At least the hospitals will eventually figure out they have errors. They also aren't hitting millions of people per year, and only checking to make sure they get an image back once a year at best. It reminds me of the fluoroscopes [wikipedia.org], except they're hitting virtually everyone that travels.

              I've asked TSA agents about the people they've caught. So far, none. At one airport, the agent told me that he heard about someone at an airport 100 miles away that was caught carrying a gun in her purse, but he couldn't confirm it.

              I was early for the first flight of the day at another airport. I had a good conversation with an agent there. We were discussing the futility of their jobs. There are so many ways to accomplish the same general idea (mass destruction). The TSA having their high visibility job simply means that most likely If a terrorist did attack, they wouldn't use a commercial airliner.

              For $500k you can get a working airliner. [aerotrader.com]. You can squeeze in 20 tons of your favorite explosive (say 2,500 gallons of diesel fuel, and 20,000 pounds of fertilizer), and put it wherever you want. Knowing that bad guys intending to commit a crime aren't the most law abiding individuals, you can knock the price down to $0 on the aircraft if it's stolen.

              But why an airliner. They need specialized training to operate. How about a boat [wikipedia.org]. Or a truck [wikipedia.org]. Or why bring the explosion to the target, when there are so many other choices. An abandon building with gas service could be deadly [wikipedia.org]. It doesn't need to be the building though. Natural gas could be pumped into a sewage system, but is less than ideal since it's lighter than air. Propane on the other hand could be catastrophic for a large area.

              I think the only reason the gov't doesn't hire me as a scenario designer is, I'd give them way too many things to worry about. It's easier to focus on "bad guy wants to get on a plane", and it creates the illusion of security, where lots of civilians have to endure the worthless security checks. Roughly 7 in 10 attempts by the FBI are missed when they've covertly audited the TSA's security. But sure as hell, they still want to touch my penis.

      • Microwave radiation is not ionizing.

        • by JWSmythe (446288)

          X-rays are though.

          According to the TSA (but not what they tell you at the airport), their full body scanners use both X-ray and microwaves (err, millimeter waves). I don't see a lot of shielding around any of their equipment. When I've looked at x-ray exam rooms (where I had the luxury to examine the space in detail), they use lead lined wallboard and doors to shield the space.

          According to L3, their "ProVision" unit uses only microwaves, but they don't specify the frequency nor power. I'd rather not stan

        • by JWSmythe (446288)

          ... and to further that ...

          http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=us-glossed-over-cancer-concerns [scientificamerican.com]

          While the research on medical X-rays could fill many bookcases, the studies that have been done on the airport X-ray scanners, known as backscatters, fill a file no more than a few inches thick. None of the main studies cited by the TSA has been published in a peer-reviewed journal, the gold standard for scientific research.

          • While I despise the TSA, their X-Ray machines use a very very small amount of radiation to perform their scans.

            From the article you cited:

            "Those tests show that the Secure 1000 delivers an extremely low dose of radiation, less than 10 microrems. The dose is roughly one-thousandth of a chest X-ray and equivalent to the cosmic radiation received in a few minutes of flying at typical cruising altitude. The TSA has used those measurements to say the machines are âoesafe.â'

            Normal terrestrial background

            • by JWSmythe (446288)

              The TSA says... The thing is, the devices are unregulated. There is no one checking to make sure that they're putting out 10 urem. They don't allow security agents to wear dosimeters. No regulatory body is allowed to test them. The TSA assures us that they are checked yearly. They don't go any further in their description of "checked". Is it an operational test, that shows an image can be returned, or is it a true measurement of the emitted radiation?

              One of the problems

              • by Obfuscant (592200)

                One of the problems with the measured dosage also is, it's 10urem in a very discrete beam. It then scans your whole body. This is in a fashion similar to the electron gun scanning on a CRT. It's the cumulative effect of these scans which is in question. So from the time you step in, to the time you step out, is that 10 urem, 100 mrem, or 1 rem?

                The REM is a measure of the dose, not the rate. If the information is correct, then it will be 10 microrem per scan. "From time you step in to time you step out", 10 microrem, if there is only one scan. Two scans, 20 urem. Fifty scans, 500 microrem.

                I've been considering picking up a geiger counter, and carrying it through. Sure, they'll get pissed when they find out, but if I can say "Hey, you just exposed me to 10 rem!" then I'd have something.

                A Geiger counter meaures rate, not dose. You need to carry a dosimeter if you want to measure your dose. Those can be as simple as a film badge. You could even hide that badge under your clothing so the TSA droid wouldn't be ordering you to "put that electronic

                • by JWSmythe (446288)

                  The REM is a measure of the dose, not the rate. If the information is correct, then it will be 10 microrem per scan. "From time you step in to time you step out", 10 microrem, if there is only one scan. Two scans, 20 urem. Fifty scans, 500 microrem.

                  Ya, I'm not a nuclear physicist. :) The point still stands. Is that 10 microrem on a single pulse, scan line, one second of exposure? Wanting it to be safe, we can assume from entrance to exit. But if we were working for the company who produces them, we'd pu

                  • A story from Dec 2010 obviously can't refute a claim made in June 2011 that the equipment was checked in May 2011.

                    • by JWSmythe (446288)

                      It's more like, they were already making the claims in 2010. The organizations listed said that they either had minimal interaction, or no interaction, and no requirements to do such testing. They continue repeating it through 2011.

                      I don't have the time to investigate it, but I'm sure if you'd like to prove me wrong, you can call the TSA, and other listed agencies, and ask them what the extent of their actions with the TSA and testing the safety of the TSA equipment is.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think the numbers are a little skewed to how they want them to be perceived.
    If you look at airline safety and fatality rate as a whole, it's ridiculously low. Even prior to 2001 and the TSA's iron grip on our airports, air travel was far safer than any other form of transportation.

    Even including the events of 9/11 against the numbers (they aren't included as air travel fatalities in the reports) and you still find air travel as the safest form of transportation.

    Why then are we paying tens of billions of d

    • I wonder how many lives would be saved if we instead put that money towards improving road safety?
  • by mapkinase (958129) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:39PM (#38540078) Homepage Journal

    No. We are not. We are always in the end of it.

  • This includes everything commercial, even ex-Soviet states flying 40-year-old planes with questionable maintenance practices, and the total deaths are still only 401.

  • by walkerp1 (523460)
    And here I thought the FAA shutdown in July-August would have planes falling out of the sky. Who knew?
    • Any pilot. Many pilots train and barely ever talk to a controller until they go for their Instrument rating. Some go out of their way to avoid airspace where they have to talk to a controller (under 18,000 feet most airspace doesn't even require a radio). Sure, commercial flights on IFR plans require the communication and rely on it for separation and such, but it is not like they suddenly fall out of the sky; even today there are commercial flights that land at nontowered airports where the pilots announce

  • The TSA are doing something! This is proof!
  • Statistics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:50PM (#38540192)

    Can you really compare annual statistics from a low probability event like a plane crash to other years to say that one year is safer than another? If a single Airbus A380 crashed tomorrow, it could triple the number of fatalities for this year (from 400 to 1200), but does that really make this year 3 times more dangerous than it was yesterday? And since that accident was only a day away from 2012, if there are only 400 accidents in 2012 does that make 2012 safer than 2011 when the difference is based on a single accident?

    If plane crashes happened every day, and this year there were 1000 crashes versus 2000 for last year, then that seems more meaningful. Likewise, combining years into decades seems like it would show safety trends, but if a single accident can skew the annual statistics so wildly, it doesn't seem reasonable to compare by year.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      not, it's another data point to look at an overall trend.

      You people, sheesh.

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        not, it's another data point to look at an overall trend.

        But does it really show a statistically valid trend? Can I look at this years crash statistics and feel that air travel is safer, or is it a feel-good number that really tells me nothing at all?

        You people, sheesh

        yeah, no kidding! If people would just believe what they read in the paper without questioning it, we'd all be much better off!

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Yes, you can. Using the appropriate statistics. But any number without error bars is meaningless, low probability event or no.

    • Getting statistics about aviation safety is one of the hardest things to do. Accidents are so rare that we indeed have no idea on how safe planes are. The ones we have an idea are already near the end of their comercial life.

      Funny fact. I was helping a friend to look at the statistics of accidents on brazilian airports by their sizes this year. The intent was to discover if operations on small airports could be made cheaper, while keeping them reasonably safe. We had 5 years of data, on 700 airports. One of

  • Afraid of being scooped by some other publication?

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:47PM (#38540894)

    I'd like to see the statistics on the number of extra fatalities due to extra car travel by people who are so fed up with TSA security and airline travel in general that they don't want to fly. I know that on a recent vacation, I drove the 1000 miles because I didn't feel like subjecting me and my family to airport security.

    I know that statistically it was less safe, but realistically, it was more fun and less stress - no one got felt-up by airport security or had to stand in an x-ray machine, we didn't have to pair down our wardrobes to what would fit in a carryon (or risk having it lost on the way there), no one stopped us from bringing sunscreens, lotions, or our favorite beverages on the road. We even brought a couple bottles of our favorite wine to enjoy at our destination and didn't need to put it in gorilla-proof packaging that can survive checked baggage handling.

    Oh, and it was cheaper, including 2 overnight hotel stays. It took more time, but to me, vacation starts when the family is together and on the way, not just when we get there.

    • But it COULD have been far easier to fly, and you could have had more time at your destination. Quite honestly, being locked in a tin can, strapped in against potential impact, bombarded by the din of the engine(s) is not hat I call "vacation" or "quality time." It's even less so when I am in charge of the flight.

      Imagine a world without the TSA - you arrive 45 minutes before your flight, your checked backs go straight into the cargo hold, you hang around for 10 minutes at the gate before boarding, your fl

      • by hawguy (1600213) on Friday December 30, 2011 @04:01PM (#38541686)

        But it COULD have been far easier to fly, and you could have had more time at your destination. Quite honestly, being locked in a tin can, strapped in against potential impact, bombarded by the din of the engine(s) is not hat I call "vacation" or "quality time." It's even less so when I am in charge of the flight.

        To each his own. I'm not sure if you were talking about a car or a plane when you said "locked in a tin can" - when we're driving, we have a lot of freedom - when we're hungry, we stop off at a real restaurant with freshly prepared food, not a $10 "meal" that's been sitting in a warmer for 3 hours where I have to choose between beef and chicken . And a full-size restroom. When we get tired of driving, we can pull into a rest area and let the kids run around and play in the grass. If we see a sign for "Worlds biggest ball of twine", we can go check it out if we want to. While we're driving, the kids can practice their reading, or we play 20 questions, or one of many other car games. Oh, and I enjoy driving, especially when I have no urgency to get somewhere - I go with the flow of traffic, take my time and stay relaxed.

        Imagine a world without the TSA - you arrive 45 minutes before your flight, your checked backs go straight into the cargo hold, you hang around for 10 minutes at the gate before boarding, your flight lasts 1/10 the time as your car travel, and you often arrive at your destination before the next mealtime. Sure, it's cheaper to drive if you have a large group (you're only paying for gasoline and wear/tear once), but the main convenience of flying is - or should I say WAS - time in transit.

        If air travel was still like that, it's likely that we would have flown - we could have brought the kids favorite foods/beverages on board, we wouldn't to wonder if putting children through an x-ray scanner is worth not having to explain why a complete stranger is touching them in inappropriate places, we would't have to stop and take off their shoes before they walk through a metal detector and then have to search for a seating area to put their shoes and belts back on. The safety factor alone makes air travel attractive, but not when it means inconveniencing or embarrassing my children when forced to go through invasive checkpoints.

        It also sounds like your travel took you two days, vs about 1/2 a day for flying. For wage slaves, that's three extra days of limited "vacation" time, for the self-employed, it's three days of opportunity cost (about $3000 for me). BTW - I did a 900 mile trip via air recently - for three people it cost us the same as gas (+/-10%), but it was a discount carrier to a common destination.

        The other drawback with airline travel is that it's on the airline's schedule, not mine. If we flew, we would have left on a 10am Wednesday morning flight (the 4pm Tuesday flight would have meant another half day off work, the 6am Wednesday flight would have meant waking up at 3:30am to get to the airport on time). It was a 12 hour drive (excluding stops)...we got on the road at 5pm Wednesday just after I got off work, and drove until midnight. I had planned on stopping around 10pm, but traffic was light, I wasn't tired, and the kids were sleeping, so we kept going to an upcoming larger town). The next day we got on the road at 9am after breakfast and got to our destination around 2pm - just in time for hotel check-in and maybe an hour after we would have gotten to the hotel if we had taken the flight. So while driving did cost more time, it didn't really eat into our vacation time. On the way back we left Tuesday afternoon instead of flying home on Wednesday morning, so we lost 1/2 day of "vacation", but only a few usable hours, most of the time we spend driving would have been spent in the hotel room.

        The cost savings was not a major factor in choosing to drive, but it was significant savings - we paid around $300 in gas (round-trip), $80 each for two nights of hotels whil

        • If you have any interest, you ought to look into getting a pilot's license. More fun and freedom than airline flying, faster and more direct than a car, usually an airport closer to your actual destination and the trip can be a unique part of the adventure (which may make up for the likely extra cost, though at four passengers it might about break even).

    • I'd like to see the statistics on the number of extra fatalities due to extra car travel by people who are so fed up with TSA security and airline travel in general that they don't want to fly. I know that on a recent vacation, I drove the 1000 miles because I didn't feel like subjecting me and my family to airport security.

      As much as I wish more people chose not to fly to protest the TSA's security measures, I doubt that number is that significant.

      However, the hassle that the TSA causes and added time to travel probably does make a difference for many. Despite living very close to a major airport, it doesn't make sense for me to take a plane unless I'm going somewhere more than about 400 [highway] miles away. By the time you add up the time on public transportation to the airports, the boarding time, and the TSA "bonus" t

    • I do the same but that option is about to go away, too, because the TSA has what they call VIPR teams (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) to bring their security theater to every other form of transportation in America. I have seen them in the New York subway. There have been reports [theatlantic.com] of them stopping cars on the highway. It won't be long before "Comrade, your papers please" becomes standard practice in America.
  • I've never worried about dying in a plane based on safety stats. Once in a while when I actually fell from the sky for a while I had my worries ;), but not because 1 in 6.4M is any more worth worrying about than 1 in 7.4M.

    But there is the very real risk of getting fondled by TSA, or baked under some extra full-body x-rays, that happens to many thousands out of every 6.4M or 7.1M passengers. And which does practically nothing to keep any of us from dying in a plane.

  • I think a lot of the credit should go to the neural net processors flying the planes.

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      I think a lot of the credit should go to the neural net processors flying the planes.

      There actually are neural net processors flying the planes (but of the natural biological form, not from Cyberdyne). But they play an increasingly smaller part in piloting planes. Is that a coincidence (because aircraft are safer in general) or one of the reasons behind increased air safety?

      • by T-Bucket (823202)

        But they play an increasingly smaller part in piloting planes.

        Are you shitting me? I happen to be one of these neural net processors, and that statement is a HUGE load of crap.

  • I find it interesting that this media blitz comes at the same time as a lax in the rules on ETOPS saftey rules: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/airlines-cleared-to-use-santas-shortcut-6281263.html [independent.co.uk]

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