Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Charter Flight Websites / Services? 1020

Posted by Cliff
from the alternative-travel-desperately-needed dept.
X86Daddy asks: "TSA's latest announcement banning all fluids (toothpaste even) from carry-on luggage is the icing on a very sour cake. Many passengers are growing tired of the invasive security screenings, the increasing prices, lost and stolen luggage, and the decreasing quality of service with commercial flights in the United States. However, given the geographical size of this country and the lack of rail options, flight remains the only practical method of travel for most destinations. Can anyone suggest alternative flight services? Are there websites that connect Cessna or other small scale air charter services with interested passengers? I've found CharterX and CharterHub but they seem more geared toward executives looking for jets. Does anyone have experience traveling this way? Is the price point a lot higher, making this a dumb idea (just resign myself to buying toiletries at every destination and prepare for the mandatory anal probes in '07)?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Charter Flight Websites / Services?

Comments Filter:
  • Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jfclavette (961511) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:35PM (#15885949)
    ... you could just, you know, not put your toiletries in your carry-on and not buy them at each destinations. Am I the only one who doesn't typically have toothpaste in his carry-on ? The only case I could see is when you're gone for only two days and want to avoid waiting for the other luggage but even then...
    • by quadong (52475) on Friday August 11, 2006 @09:34AM (#15888542) Homepage
      I really don't understand why everyone is jumping on toothpaste as their example of how this rule bothers them. How about water? You can't bring a water bottle onto a plane. This means that you are completely at the mercy of the very slow cart that brings the tiny cups of soda once or twice during the flight. And airplanes are very dry places. When you're terribly thirsty and you realize that you were barred from doing anything about it by the TSA, you're going to be much more pissed than when you realized you would have to check your toothpaste.
    • Re:Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Stinking Pig (45860) on Friday August 11, 2006 @10:22AM (#15888852) Homepage
      Ask around: frequent travellers do not check luggage, unless there is a truly dire need. For any trip of a week or shorter, all you need is your laptop bag and one rollie full of clothes and toiletries. If the trip is longer, there's always hotel laundry service...

      We don't check luggage because checking luggage adds at least an hour to the flying experience, making day trips in the same time zone less feasible, greatly increasing the chance of loss or damage, and generally ruining one's day.

      One other thing to consider... what's going to happen to the checked-luggage system when these new TSA rules cause its load to be increased by 50 or 75 percent? Currently, it's only used by the infrequent travellers or the people with truly dire needs (musicians, sports, and others with large equipment). Add in the rollies of all those business travelers and the plane hold fills up faster, and then what's the chance that your bag with clothes and toiletries makes it to the same place you're going at the same time? Some people are expected to show up the next morning in clean clothes, and for those just planning to get some more toothpaste when you land, you're obviously not used to landing late at night after everything is closed. It's not an unusual occurence.
  • by Jerk City Troll (661616) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:37PM (#15885955) Homepage
    If you've been paying attention the past few years, the FAA and the major airlines seem hellbent on removing general aviation from the US altogether (closing non-airline airports, insisting on implementing per request fees for ATC, trying to ground all aircraft built before the last few decades. And don't get me started on the stupidity of every major city wanting a Washington D.C. style Air Defense Identificaton Zone). I suspect having nothing flying anywhere near the ground except governemnt controled drones would suit them just fine.
    • by tentimestwenty (693290) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:13PM (#15886159)
      I agree with you on the negative trend with air travel, but ultimately we have to remember that air travel is a very expensive, cumbersome and fragile way to travel. When you introduce terrorists trying to screw it up it just makes it tougher from a practical and economic stand point. To me, it is obvious that we have to be looking at alternative infrastructure in the way of trains, not just as a backup for terrorist disruptions but if oil prices keep rising. Over the last 100 years we have dismantled trains and poured money into highways and air and neither of these are as robust or cost effective, especially if mass transit is a priority. There's a reason why all other nations have kept or expanded their rail service: it's reliability and long term cost efficiency.
      • by JetScootr (319545) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:21PM (#15886211) Journal
        In SE houston, we had a small start up airline called "Metro Air". They flew twin and 3-engine craft, seated about 20-40 passengers, went Houston-San Antonio, Austion, DFW, New Orleans, a few other closeby destinations, cheaper than you could drive a car, and about half the time. They flew out of small airports, the kind that can't take jets. Their planes were always full, and they were expanding flights, etc. They were seriously cutting into the big jet/big airline's market space because of simple efficiency: prop planes use less fuel, less ground support, require less technology, etc.

        Continental bought them out and shut them down.

        I heard (but can't verify myself) that these "puddle jumper" airlines were popping up all over the country because of this, and the big airlines were buying them like Continental did.
        • by Starker_Kull (896770) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:33PM (#15886285)
          Actually, while turboprops make economic sense for short flights, and were thus extensively used to feed hubs for majors, passenger surveys indicated that passengers HATED them. Something about a prop on a airplane scares the crap out of them (despite the fact that you add a bunch more blades and shroud it in a teflon shell and *presto!* you have a modern high-bypass turbofan). So, the majors bought out feeder carriers in the late 90's for control, and then replaced the turboprop planes with RJ's (Embraer 145's and Canadairs), since that what people wanted to see associated with the major airline logo. Now, with fuel becoming the number one expense for airlines nowadays, turboprops make more sense despite passenger "nervousness". They will be reintroduced in time...
      • Counterfactual (Score:3, Insightful)

        by alienmole (15522)

        ultimately we have to remember that air travel is a very expensive, cumbersome and fragile way to travel.

        Compared to what, and how do you justify that claim? Certainly not in terms of actual passenger injuries per mile, since air travel is close to rail travel in that respect, and much better than road travel. For longer trips in particular, alternative forms of transportation can't compete with air travel in terms of speed, and it's not as easy as you might think to compete in terms of cost. Rail isn't

      • There are various figures, but most studies conclude that trains get no better than twice the energy efficiency (BTUs per passenger mile) of air travel or cars. A DoE study in 2003 rated planes, trains and automobiles as almost all exactly the same in BTU/passenger mile.

        But rail requires a huge expenditure in dedicated land. Land that is has a train roll over it often quite infrequently in the USA, and requires expensive crossings. Trains can only go where rails go.

        Planes require just the airport, and
    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:37PM (#15886315)

      If you've been paying attention the past few years, the FAA and the major airlines seem hellbent on removing general aviation from the US altogether (closing non-airline airports, insisting on implementing per request fees for ATC, trying to ground all aircraft built before the last few decades. And don't get me started on the stupidity of every major city wanting a Washington D.C. style Air Defense Identificaton Zone). I suspect having nothing flying anywhere near the ground except governemnt controled drones would suit them just fine.

      You clearly aren't aware of AOPA's extensive, successful lobbying efforts. They've been a constant voice against GA (General Aviation) paranoia (ie "someone's going to steal a Cessna and smash it into a Nu-cle-ar power plant!") in the Federal and local government. When the FAA abritrarily revoked the license of the widely loved Bob Hoover because he hit the maximum age, AOPA fought his case. They made a HUGE ruckus when Mayor Daley bulldozed Meigs Field illegally for a park (Daley literally had bulldozers come in during the middle of the night and start tearing up asphalt, when several groups challenged the plans in court.) They've been a powerful, strong voice to Congress (and the press) regarding the incredibly frightening "standard operating procedures" for when pilots stray into restricted airspace.

      Most of the time, controllers don't actually TELL pilots they've done so- or the pilot has switched over to the next control jurisdiction (and when you do so, you tell the controller you were with that you're leaving the frequency- so they SHOULD be able to 'know' 'where' you are.) Most of the time, either nobody notices or cares, or the pilot gets an "interview" with a friendly local FAA or Homeland InSecurity rep when he lands.

      However, all too often, the first sign a pilot has strayed into restricted airspace is when a blackhawk helicopter pops down next to them, or they get buzzed by a fighter jet. Radio problems are a recurring theme in the encounters- military aircraft with semi-working civilian-band radios, or military pilots not knowing what frequencies the pilot is on/should be on.) You can't really lean out the window and say "hey, officer, what's the problem?", and GA pilots are faced with a terrible conundrum- clearly someone is pissed, but what to do? Change flightpath, possibly becoming more of a threat? Keep going straight, inadvertently continuing towards whatever everyone is hot and bothered about, and get shot down once they cross some 'line in the sand'? Nevermind that when you've got a guy with a very big machinegun trained on you, flying the plane suddenly becomes the least of your worries, and that's VERY dangerous...

      Then there's the media frenzy and news helicopters covering you getting taken down on the tarmac by a SWAT team, getting "interviewed" by half a dozen government agencies over a simple human error, possible criminal charges, your pilot's license suspended, your plane (or someone else's plane- many times they are rentals) getting impounded, etc.

      If you're sitting there saying "stupid pilots should know not to fly into restricted airspace", keep in mind that the number of restricted spaces EXPLODED in the last few years because of You Know When...and these spaces are frequently around insignificant things like, say, a major grain processing plant that Homeland Insecurity classified as "critical infrastructure". Things that are NOT marked on charts. They're also frequently date/time specific (ie, some big concert is going on somewhere, and DoHiS issues a restriction just for the event. There are a half dozen KINDS of restricted airspaces, with all sorts of varying altitude limits and such.

      • by letxa2000 (215841) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:59PM (#15886444)
        However, all too often, the first sign a pilot has strayed into restricted airspace is when a blackhawk helicopter pops down next to them, or they get buzzed by a fighter jet. Radio problems are a recurring theme in the encounters- military aircraft with semi-working civilian-band radios, or military pilots not knowing what frequencies the pilot is on/should be on.) You can't really lean out the window and say "hey, officer, what's the problem?", and GA pilots are faced with a terrible conundrum- clearly someone is pissed, but what to do? Change flightpath, possibly becoming more of a threat? Keep going straight, inadvertently continuing towards whatever everyone is hot and bothered about, and get shot down once they cross some 'line in the sand'? Nevermind that when you've got a guy with a very big machinegun trained on you, flying the plane suddenly becomes the least of your worries, and that's VERY dangerous...


        I'm a private pilot. Haven't run into any Blackhawks or fighter jets, but haven't busted any restricted airspace, either. If you're flying, you damn well better know where you are. And before you fly, you should sit down and figure out where you're going to fly and be aware of anything of interest in your proximity. If that's too much to ask of you, please don't take off.

      • They've been a constant voice against GA (General Aviation) paranoia (ie "someone's going to steal a Cessna and smash it into a Nu-cle-ar power plant!")
        You spelled that wrong. They say it "nuc-you-lar". (I'm not making this up.)
      • They made a HUGE ruckus when Mayor Daley bulldozed Meigs Field illegally for a park

        And that's all that came of it - a lot of noise, a trivial fine levied on the city by the FAA, and a later court ruling that Daley's actions were in fact legal. Don't get me wrong - I'm not agreeing with what he did, and I think that Richard Daley and Rod Blagojevich are probably two of the biggest wastes of oxygen within US territory. For those of you thinking I'm picking on the Democrats, I'd also include our fearless
    • trying to ground all aircraft built before the last few decades.

      That, if anything, is due to lobbying by Cessna, which has once again entered the small GA plane market. (After their liability was limited to 18 years after date of manufacture by statute.) Since their products aren't cheap, and 40-yr old planes are still flying fine, they want to be able make some money. As another poster has said, the AOPA has been largely successful in lobbying against such restrictions.

      No homeland security issue th

  • by clear_thought_05 (915350) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:37PM (#15885956)
    ... I know that B.A. Baracus is happy.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:39PM (#15885970)
    ...the "not being blown to chunks at 30,000 feet"...

    Inconceivable that you would rather "take your chances" than leave your toothpaste behind.
    • by rabel (531545) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:21PM (#15886213)
      You're more likely to die by overdosing on non-perscription pain relievers like Advil or Motrin than in a terror attack by a factor of 24 to 1. (We had 7,600 deaths due to "Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Such As Aspirin" in 2000.)

      I suggest someone like yourself, who's all scaredy paranoid about the evil terrorists, to stop taking Advil as well.
      • by vokyvsd (979677) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:07AM (#15887036)
        That comparison makes no sense. Just because something is unlikely to happen doesn't mean you shouldn't be careful of it. Seatbelts only saved 10,000 lives in 2000. Compared to the number of miles driven by all people in the country, that's statistically insignificant. Should I not wear my seatbelt, just because the chances that it will help are small? We may as well take every precaution we can. And remember, this is only carry-on luggage. How often do you feel the need to brush your teeth mid-flight?
    • by drooling-dog (189103) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:21PM (#15886214)
      Apparently not, because they're emptying all of these containers of potential explosive and dangerous chemicals into big trashcans right in the middle of airport crowds:

      http://www.boingboing.net/2006/08/10/if_the_liquid _could_.html [boingboing.net]

      Is there any way they would endanger the public this way if they really thought there was any chance the "liquids" could be dangerous? And if they don't think there's such a chance, why are they confiscating them in the first place?

      I call bullshit.
      • by Detritus (11846) on Friday August 11, 2006 @12:29AM (#15886869) Homepage
        I think they're worried about binary explosives, which aren't dangerous until you mix the two components. Even then, you need a blasting cap to trigger an explosion.
      • by glesga_kiss (596639) on Friday August 11, 2006 @04:54AM (#15887669)
        I call bullshit.

        Hear hear. This is yet another large terrorism "bust" in the UK. Each one was originally sold to us as a massive success in the Fight For Freedom(TM). The first was a Brazilian guy who was running away from the police with an explosive vest on. About a week after he was shot in the face NINE times we hear that, no, he wasn't running. No, he didn't have a jacket no. And no, he had zero terrorist links. This happened a week or two after the london bombings and for some reason none of the surveilence systems were functional in the subway station. Righhttt...

        The next case was two brothers arrested in possibly the biggest police operation in UK history. Over 200 officers present at the arrest. During the arrest, one of the brothers attempted to shoot the police as they entered. Or so we were told. Appently they went with a similar line to the Chewbacka defence; you see the officer had gloves on that made his weapon discharge when he shot the guy in cold blood. No charges were filed and the police are now paying to rebuild their house after it was torn appart. Again, righhttt...

        Another set of guys, who we were told were on the same level as the 9/11 hijackers. Big court case, all that. Well, you see it turns out was ALL they had done was chat about what things could be blown up. They, being young men, were talking about nightclubs etc. They had no terrorist links, no access to explosives and frankly they were a bunch of muppets that would never have done anything. How many of you have joked with friends about robbing a bank and the perfect crime? How would you feel if you were now in jail for those hypothetical musings?

        So, here we are once again. The whole nation is terrified of flying. Planes have some downright serious restrictions on what you can and cannot take in luggage. Yet as the parent poster points out, if things were really as they said, they wouldn't be mixing hazzardous binary explosives in large bins, would they? The risk to flying is zero. This plot was nowhere near being carried out. Now, they could just be playing safe and taking every precaution. But if liquid explosives were really an issue today (coke/mentos?), they were an issue yesterday and the day before. They will be tomorrow. Are we going to keep up this ban indefinately?

        We are being buttered up for the next concquest in the PNACs publicly stated plan to essentially take over the Middle East. My money is on Iran or Syria. Possibly the latter, the pattern fits with the Syran/Hizbolla links we've been constantly informed about over the past few weeks. It's similar to how the Iraq conquest was sold via a snowballing fear/hate campaign. Many of us observed this propaganda build up at the time. Here we are once again.

        Remember people, WE'RE AT WAR(TM)!!

  • Ummmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by guisar (69737) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:39PM (#15885971) Homepage
    Doesn't the Government work for us? (Rhetorical question). It was interesting to hear our Attorney General at the press conference- the ernest docent, trying to convince us they were doing their very best to keep us informed and that all of this was for our safety. It's ridiculous.

    I wonder if who's going to test suckling womens brests?
    • ObHeinlein (Score:3, Informative)

      In a mature society, "civil servant" is semantically equal to "civil master." --Lazarus Long
  • by radiotyler (819474) <tyler@dapperg e e k . c om> on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:39PM (#15885976) Homepage
    I was on a flight to Kuwait deploying with my unit. We were waiting to fly out of Ft. Campbell and these guys are running around telling us we have to pack our Gerbers, Folding knives, and lighters in our stow bags and that they cannot be on your person or in your carry on.

    All of our guns though - no problem. We didn't even take out the bolts.

    I understand that a military flight vs a civilian flight is totally different, but c'mon. You let me bring my GUN on the plane?
    • by pete6677 (681676) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:44PM (#15886008)
      It makes about as much sense as that time when I saw a PILOT going through airport security shortly after 9/11 and the screener morons were taking his nail scissors. If a pilot wants the plane to go down, its going down.
      • by Atario (673917) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:49PM (#15886395) Homepage
        Airline security is a joke. And it's on us.

        Next attack attempt: weapons/substances smuggled in via anally-inserted container
        Response: All passengers must submit to anal probe prior to takeoff. You may request a same-sex examiner, but it may delay you further.

        Next attack attempt: weapons/substances swallowed, produced in-flight either by regurgitation or timed bowel movement
        Response: All passengers must submit to a 24-hour fasting/emetic/diuretic/laxative regimen before takeoff. Water will be provided; outside drinks not allowed. You must use the provided toilet facilities to ensure proper testing/inspection of waste.

        Next attack attempt: a team of guys trained to bite effectively
        Response: All passengers must have all teeth removed prior to takeoff. There will be two dentists on duty per airport to process the unprepared, but lines will be long, so plan ahead.

        Next attack attempt: regular old martial arts
        Response: Seats eliminated; all passengers shall be assigned a sealed 3' x 3' x 8' pen and will be locked in for duration of flight.

        Next attack attempt: guys wait near airports with surface-to-air rockets
        Response: All buildings/cities/people removed from all airports to a distance of five miles, and land paved (and landfill created, if near water); round-the-clock patrols and spotters emplaced, with orders to shoot on sight anyone straying from the single barbed-wire/barrier-encrusted access road.

        Next attack attempt: bomb detonated and/or machine guns deployed in by-now immense crowd waiting to get through initial security checkpoint
        Response: ????

        How far does this idiocy go before we decide there must be a better way, folks? Hm?
      • by Digital_Quartz (75366) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:54PM (#15886417) Homepage
        It's a little known fact that 4 out of 5 people killed with nail scissors in the U.S. are killed not by someone else's nail scissors, but by their own [google.ca].

        The problem is, of course, that people are not properly trained in nail scissor use. People think that carrying nail scissors is a way to protect their nails, but they don't understand that those same nail scissors can be turned against them, if they are not prepared to use them when a dreaded hang-nail rears its ugly head.
  • Pilot yourself (Score:5, Informative)

    by samkass (174571) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:40PM (#15885981) Homepage Journal
    Getting your own pilot's license is a bit of work but easily do-able on your average geek's salary. Then go in on a Cessna with a few friends or join a flying rental club and you've got something that can do the shorter hops easily. It won't be cheaper, but it's not as insanely expensive as most think, and no one will search you or even ask you where you're going (unless you fly through class B or C airspace, and then only in general terms).

    Alternately, in a couple years the Very Light Jet (VLJ) [wikipedia.org] market is supposed to take off and offer the kind of services you suggest on a level that an upper-middle-class American can afford, but not yet. Watch Eclipse [eclipseaviation.com], Honda [honda.com], and the others roll out their aircraft and look for the small carriers to use'em.

    • Re:Pilot yourself (Score:5, Informative)

      by thogard (43403) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:18PM (#15886196) Homepage
      I used to fly a piper turbo arrow out of St Louis. I had to move a server from NYC to St Louis. My coworker and I both left at the same time. He flew commercial and I flew the arrow. He arrived at the NYC air port, picked up a rental car and got to the small airport to pick me up just about the time I was on final approach. Not bad for a flight close to 1/2 way across the country. I didn't have any security problem, I had plenty of leg room and no one was worried about what was in my bag. My flight cost less than his too.

      A pilots license isn't that hard to get if you fly every week.
  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:42PM (#15885995)
    If you do enough flying to seriously consider a solution like this (a chartered Cessna) then go ahead and learn to fly. You can buy a safe, serviceable used plane for about what you'd pay for an average new loaded SUV (~$50,000). You can learn to fly it for $5K-$6K. Park it at your local general aviation field and just fly it where you want to go.

    My brother-in-law and his family live up here in Vancouver. When his father-in-law comes up to visit from the Bay Area he just flies his own plane. No security, no lines, and he can even smoke a cigar.

    Source:

    eBay Motors> Other Vehicles & Trailers> Aircraft> Airplanes - Single-Engine

  • by Dekortage (697532) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:47PM (#15886019) Homepage

    So the article says they will make an exception for "prescription medicine with a name that matches the passenger's ticket". Because we know that no terrorist would be able to forge those labels, right?

    On the flip side, the U.S. Department of Transportation is completely ignoring the railway [narprail.org] as an answer to our nation's transportation problems.

  • More to the point... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MadDog Bob-2 (139526) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:52PM (#15886056)

    Who do we complain to about this? And how quickly will such a complaint turn into a spot on the no fly lists?

    I mean, honestly, this is just insane.

    I'm trying to put together a coherent thought or two about this, but I just can't wrap my brain around the scale of the disconnect between what they claim they're trying to achieve and the means they're employing. Either they're lying to us about their goals, or they have absolutely no sense of perspective, or they're viciously incompetent. Or some combination of the three. I just can't come up with any other explanations.

  • by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:54PM (#15886064)
    Anyone who has been flying very often for very long knows:

    - Flights have gotten dramatically cheaper in the past few years. With the discount carriers (Southwest) and competition from the big carriers, round-trips under $150 are not uncommon.
    - Flying is easier than ever. Security has gotten more annoying, but everything else is better.
    - Gone are the days when you had to go to the counter (or tip a skycap) to check in (even if you don't have checked baggage). - - Gone are the days when you had to wait for your tickets in the mail (or go to the airport or a travel agent).
    - Gone are the days when you had to spend countless minutes (sometimes hours) in line or on the phone just to book a flight. Today, you can book online easily and get your boarding pass from an easy-check-in kiosk.
    - There are more flights to more places from more places at more times. Non-stop is the norm if you are in a decently large city.

    So, I guess the only real complaints are:
    - Services have been reduced. No more free meals, for one - often no hot meals at all. But, hey, airplane food was never good, and at least you don't have to pay for headphones anymore. And, if it lowers my fares more, I'm all for cutting the frils.
    - Security takes longer. It's always been a joke, it still is, and I suspect that it always will be. Guess what, though? It's standardized now, so you know what to expect, and the inspectors are paid better, so they usually aren't asleep on the job. In a well-managed airport (e.g. Denver), the lines are short or nonexistant during off hours, reasonable during normal times, and acceptable during peak hours.

    So, air travel is available to more people than ever before, and it's easier than ever in most regards. I think that you can put your toothpaste in your checked luggage.
    • by Shag (3737) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @11:26PM (#15886580) Homepage
      Anyone who has been flying very often for very long knows...


      How often, and for how long, are we talking about, here?

      I've been flying since the 1980s. That means I remember the days when you could say your hello's and farewells at the gate, because the security checkpoint wasn't right next to the counter, and you didn't have to have a boarding pass to go through it. It means I remember when the husband of a friend 2000 miles flew out for a job interview 40 miles from me, got the job, and gave me the return half of his ticket so I could fly out and help his family pack and move - and nobody checked. It means I remember the days when I could take pictures of airliners without security threatening to confiscate my camera.

      I used to work in travel, and was working in travel on 9/11/2001. I've flown somewhere around a quarter-million miles in the last 5 years. I've been through security dozens of times, in countries throughout four different continents. I've been places where I wasn't even allowed into the terminal building without a passport and proof of ticketing, and went through three metal detectors on the way to the plane.

      The problem with your argument is that most of the benefits (lower prices, online ticketing and check-in, etc.) were already in place before 2001. I did about 25,000-35,000 miles each year in 1999 and 2000 - things were good back then! The things people are complaining about, on the other hand, have happened since 2001, and there really haven't been any improvements in other areas to offset them.

      And a lot of intensely stupid things have been done, too. Like the TSA spending taxpayer money to include "Transformer Robot Toys" on its list of things that are allowed in carry-on luggage. WTF?

      I still fly a lot - 70,000+ miles last year, and around 50,000 in the first half of this year alone - so I've gotten good enough at knowing the rules, and can breeze through security... except that there are some people out there who aren't used to post-9/11 travel after almost 5 years of it, and those people seem to wind up in line in front of me! :)
  • by eclectro (227083) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:13PM (#15886161)

    Are you glad to see me or is that a tube of toothpaste in your pocket that you're gonna use to blow the plane??
  • by strangedays (129383) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:44PM (#15886356)

    I am often amazed by the real blind spot America has to the advantages of rail.

    I put it down to the unbelievably negative effect of any Amtrak travel experience, I can understand anyone having a negative opinion if Amtrak is all you have had opportunity to experience. They are a freight network. Please do not judge modern commuter rail travel by their miserable example.

    The second barrier of course is the political influence of the airlines and car/road makers.

    The fact is there are three, not two, integrated forms of transport. High speed rail is a major utility between cities and towns in most modern nations, except the US.

    The lack of rail in the USA, is in fact a big opportunity to do it right. For example, if we used Maglev, we could run fast (300 mph plus trains) between cities, bridging the transit gap between (gasoline dependent) short haul cars (good up to a few hundred miles) and security infested terror target aircraft (good for long haul). Fast trains neatly fill the 50 mile to 1000, mile middle range. Imagine new york to washington in 40 minutes. Downtown to major airports in 10 minutes. Less traffic and city congestion. Less car pollution. Fast, smooth, safe, cheap. Whats not to like? Trains themselves are also a low pollution option (Initially building a rail network, however, is not so green , a necessary trade off).

    Electric surface level trains are an inherently poor terrorist target, if anyone hijacks one, just turn off the power and call SWAT. They have no-where to go. If we want to talk about strategic security, I imagine that a high speed transcontinental alternative to air travel just might be a national asset in a real war. Are the people who calmly veto this, really the patriots they claim to be?

    The lack of a decent network of high speed rail in the US is, IMHO, a clear example of the negative effect of corrupt political lobbying preventing any form of purely public benefits in long term planning. It seems to me that if it doesn't benefit an existing power-bloc, it simply can't happen anymore. This defeats real progress and innovation. Not a good thing.

    Train networks are certainly not perfect, they tend to break even at best and in most countries seem to oscillate between inneficient government operation and efficient but overpriced and fragmented private operation.

    High political maintenance not-withstanding, I submit that having a good inter and intra city commuter rail network, is a major public benefit, its simply a huge advantage to have a third travel option.

    • by alienmole (15522) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:57AM (#15887199)
      High speed rail is a major utility between cities and towns in most modern nations, except the US.
      Could you tell me which of those modern nations have train networks that allow you to travel, say, the 1300km between NYC and Chicago, or the 4500km between NYC and LA, in a timely fashion that's even remotely competitive with air travel? Or are you suggesting that the U.S. create a new rail system the likes of which the world has never seen? (Be interesting to watch *that* being done on time, and under budget...) European countries with good rail systems, as well as Japan, are *tiny* compared to the U.S. It's true that there are some short-haul trips, like NY to DC or Boston, which could benefit from faster and more reliable train service. But the air network would still be needed for anything longer distance, and the reality is that the train service isn't likely to be able to compete other than in exceptional cases, short of major technological advances which haven't happened yet.
    • http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2 0 06/08/08/MNGGTKD03A1.DTL [sfgate.com]

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0375725806/002-89 62410-6073658?v=glance&n=283155 [amazon.com]

      but that out of the way, the scale of the US makes it a bit less than feasible. For instance, here in California we've been arguing on and off for several years about a high-speed rail between SF and LA. It's only 500 miles, and it could follow the course of the old El Camino Real (now Highway 101)... only that's through mountainous territory all th
  • Charter rates (Score:3, Informative)

    by Starker_Kull (896770) on Friday August 11, 2006 @12:45AM (#15886935)
    It is pretty unlikely that charter companies will be able to compete with major airlines for the low cost end of things, more due to physics than business. Turbofan engines tend to be more efficent the larger they are, and the LARGEST aircraft tend to be the most efficent per seat mile, with an execption being for ultra-hi bypass jets (otherwise known as turboprops) in the 50 seat (give or take 20) category. For illustration, the cost per seat-mile for various aircraft is about (on average) $0.06/seat-mile in 777's (about 350 seats), $0.09/seat-mile in 737's (about 130 seats), and about $0.14/seat-mile in EMB-145's (50 seats). Of this, usually 30 - 50 % is fuel costs. When you get to charter size aircraft, the numbers get even worse. Look at a typical charter outfit: http://www.wisconsinaviation.com/charter/intro.htm l [wisconsinaviation.com] - let's do some basic math on the numbers listed there to get an idea of seat mile costs - I'll neglect anything less than a turboprop, because of their far slower speed and ability to handle weather. Based on their numbers, here are the costs per seat-mile, only taking into account aircraft rental and fuel - i.e. ignoring fees, repo flights, and pilot expenses.

    Cessna 340: 0.66
    Piper Navajo 0.41
    Cessna 414 0.51
    King Air 0.40
    Cessna Conquest II 0.36
    Cessna Citation 500 0.59
    Cessna Citation I 0.72
    Cessna Citation S/II 0.53

    All these, even the cheapest, is more than TRIPLE the airliners. And I also made the calculation assuming that every seat was taken, an unlikely assumption given than the person was interested in charter (i.e. non regularly scheduled) ops. It's just not a viable idea. Sadly, from a long-term cost and energy consumption standpoint, rail beats air hands down for most overland travel. Oceans still give planes somewhere worthwhile to fly over.... :)

  • by Queuetue (156269) <scott&pantastik,com> on Friday August 11, 2006 @04:48AM (#15887656) Homepage
    I run it, so this could be spam, but http://www.rsvpair.com/ [rsvpair.com] is exactly what you requested - a free directory that lets people who want to fly charter find operators, give feedback and see prices, both for large executive jets, turboprops, and smaller props like you were requesting here.
  • NO! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Man (684) on Friday August 11, 2006 @11:20AM (#15889280) Homepage
    ...just resign myself to buying toiletries at every destination and prepare for the mandatory anal probes in '07

    How about DON'T resign yourself to anything? Have you forgotten that this is supposed to be government of, by, and for the people? They work for us, not the other way around; does a boss resign himself to the fact that his employees will show up 5 hours late every day? Hell, no; he tells them to show up on time or he fires them and finds others who will. It's time to take a stand against bad government, the kind that has allowed our rail infrastructure to degrade to pre-1900 performance levels and the kind that scares and/or bullies people into waiting in line 2 hours to get searched for incredibly dangerous items like nail clippers and shaving cream while as everyone knows there are dozens of ways to destroy an airplane if you're determined enough. Instead of kowtowing to the government's plans for you, how about sending the government a message by proxy?

    Stop traveling. Just stay home.

    I understand this may be a slight annoyance for you, but it's vastly more effective than writing your Congressman. Why? It puts the economic multiplier effect into play. When you don't travel, and make it clear to potential hosts, such as family and friends, as well as the hotel you would have stayed at, the theme park you would have visited, the owner of the boat you would have rented, and the guide you would have employed, you give other people reason to fight for your cause. And when these people turn around and tell their local chamber of commerce about these calls, an entire city's worth of business leaders will be on your side, even those who don't care about tourism or hospitality: they know that the hoteliers, theme park operators, boat shops, and guides are their customers, who now have less money to spend. Just a few thousand people making a point not to travel, and to let others know why they're not traveling, are enough of an economic force to enlist millions of powerful allies. Start an organised travel boycott in a few cities and it's all but over. Direct pressure on the government doesn't work; a few thousand people can't influence an elected official, especially if they're not wealthy. But the interconnectedness of the economy, and business owners' fresh memories of a nation that doesn't travel, allow us to harness the multiplier effect and force change.

    What kind of change? Nationwide high-speed rail, for one. An end to ineffective, inconvenient, undignified, and unconstitutional searches and demands for identification for all domestic travel modes. Better training for all transportation and emergency personnel to ensure that everyone knows that transit vehicles, whether on land or water or in the air, have priority at all times. Changes in the law to prohibit police (whether federal, state, or local) from interfering with safe and timely transportation operations - be it traffic on a freeway or a train crossing a bridge - for any reason. In short, the only reason any transit vehicle should ever arrive late is unavoidable mechanical failure. And no one should ever be searched without a warrant. Simple as that.

    Join the travel boycott. Enforce change.

There's got to be more to life than compile-and-go.

Working...