Summer air travel predicted to increase, despite TSA

As if on cue after yesterday’s post about train travel in the U.S., the largest airline trade association in the country has just come out with a prediction about summer air travel. And to anyone who thinks the TSA has put a damper on that travel, the stats appear to indicate otherwise. 

The trade association, Airlines for America, estimates:

. . . about 210 million passengers will fly on the nation’s carriers between June and August, up 1.5 percent from last year.

The outlook includes 29.9 million passengers on international flights, the highest level ever, the group added. The top nonstop destinations from the United States were Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan, based on flight schedules.

The forecast about foreign tourists coming to the U.S. contradicts recent past experience, where the American tourism industry was worried about the decline of foreign travelers, citing unwelcoming if not downright abusive practices by customs, immigration, and security officials.

Foreigners might want to acquaint themselves with the experience of Hyunjoo Kim of Korea, or Alban Gerhardt of Germany, or musicians from around the world who refuse to come to the U.S. anymore, or, hey, any of thousands of other people.

Yesterday a reader named Susan J. Barretta left a comment here, stating:

The travel stats do not bear out that we have left “air travel in droves” at least enough to have a major fiscal impact on the airlines. Airline passengers peaked in 2008 and the introduction of intrusive screening methods in 2010 shows no material impact on ridership. In other words, those of us who have stopped traveling because of TSA’s invasive screening methods are too few to have an impact.

Alas, she’s right.

Most Americans are perfectly content to subject themselves and their children to abuse to get on a plane. I’ve been saying for years that I don’t believe this state of affairs will change in my lifetime. I’m sorry to say that I think the evidence, along with the latest forecast, bear me out.

(Graphic courtesy of The Weather Channel)

Cross-posted at ABombazine

  • Dolt

    The crazy assholes who were the “masterminds” of 9/11 knew Americans so much better than Americans knew Americans. By their own words, they accomplished far more than they ever set out to accomplish. A very key factor they used was American’s over-reaction and hysteria, placing themselves into a self-imposed police-state and spending themselves into oblivion in the name of “safety and security”.

    Such irony that those who cry “Remember 9/11” in sincerity, seem to know nothing of what actually occurred on that day other than in picture book form (Airplanes! Buildings!).

  • Chris Bray

    I go back and forth about this: I usually think that depriving yourself of the freedom to travel as you wish grants a victory to the Keystone Stasi. If you let them reduce your freedom of movement — and rail travel from coast to coast takes a good four days, if Amtrak doesn’t get lost on the way — then you’ve allowed them to take something from you.

    To be sure, a year of coordinated mass withdrawal would produce immediate and lasting change. But — and I don’t even have to say this here — read the comment thread following a news story about the Thousands of Stupid Assholes. We share a country with millions of people who are actively grateful for the nation’s airport mall cops. Those people aren’t refusing to withdraw from travel even though they hate the raw idiocy of the national security state — they love the fucking thing. “What do you mean you don’t want a high school dropout fingering your ostomy hole with his dirty blue gloves — don’t you remember 9/11!?!?!?”

    The culture war is over, and the mindlessness of the security state won. Now we have to decide how to live with the resulting decline. My plan is to ignore Paul Blart, Airport Pseudocop as much as I can, and do what I fucking well want to do. That may be the wrong choice.

    • Chris, I understand. I’ve gone back & forth over this for years.

      As for coordinated mass withdrawal, it wouldn’t take anywhere near as long as a year to get change. More like a few weeks. Look what happened after 9/11. In only days, the airlines were losing money. They were desperate. A few weeks of a mass boycott over the TSA, and things would change so fast our heads would spin.

      But as I’ve said a hundred times, I know this won’t happen. I know it. The country is nowhere near ready for a mass boycott, and probably never will be. As you point out, lots of people are happy to be abused. They’re eager for it. It makes them “feel safe.” There are millions of people who like their fear and like to lick the authoritarian boot.

      I’ve stopped flying in/from this country because I refuse to support this abusive system. This is a power that I still have, to decide what I want to do and don’t want to do do, to decide who gets to touch me. I refuse to be forced.

      So I don’t see it as letting “them” win. I’ve drawn parallels with the civil rights movement before and will do so again:

      When people claim, “But by not flying, you’re just punishing yourself; you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face; you’re letting them win,” I always bring up the bus boycott. Were those people, who were poor, who were dependent on buses to get to work, who didn’t have other means of transportation, also “cutting off their nose to spite their face”? Were they punishing themselves? Were they letting “them” win?

      • Susan J. Barretta

        I totally forgot about the Alabama bus boycott! I will remember that the next time somebody tells me I am just punishing myself.

      • Chris Bray

        The bus boycott required incredible social discipline and cooperative effort — a sense of shared purpose and shared outrage. It required conditions we don’t have, and I don’t see us ever having. Without shared commitment, there’s no possibility of positive change.

        And then the TSA spreads to train stations and highway VIPR checkpoints anyway — what then?

        We have a long, hard, ugly way to go.

        • Chris, agreed to all. I also don’t see this happening in this country in my lifetime.

          But if anyone’s looking for a small flicker of hope, keep in mind that the bus boycott didn’t occur until 5 years after Rosa Parks. And even then, as I wrote about in that post, there were plenty of black people who didn’t want to participate, who said to the activists, “you ought to know better.”

  • Susan J. Barretta

    You can get the stats at BLS. I have been charting their T-100 series stats, going back to 2000, in Excel.

    The biggest impact on travel is the economy, plain and simple. I’ve plotted the stats against the level of the stock market, which is a decent economic “indicator” and there is a good correlation.

    This reminds me that I should up date my spreadsheets.

  • Jack Stinglash

    Well, it’s a shame. And I’m still not coming to visit your country.