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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)?"
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Charter Flight Websites / Services?

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  • 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 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 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 tentimestwenty (693290) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:39PM (#15885973)
    I don't know which side you're on with the reactionary comment but to me this is a clear trend towards reducing personal freedoms through bureaucratic hoops. Personally, I don't want to fly as much as I used to because I don't want to wait in line for 2 hours or give them my fingerprints to get in the quick line. I want to bring my own freakin toothpaste when I travel. Freedom to move around the country is a pretty basic right which is being eroded by stealth.
  • by Pros_n_Cons (535669) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:42PM (#15885987)
    Had they (terrorists/freedom fighters) succeeded would this article be here complaining about we cant bring on toothpaste, or would we be talking about the 10-20 planes and thousands of people who died today?
  • 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 linguae (763922) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:45PM (#15886012)
    "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

    Or, even better for this topic:

    Our history has shown us that insecurity threatens liberty. Yet, if our liberties are curtailed, we lose the values that we are struggling to defend." ~ The 9/11 Commission Report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
  • by babbling (952366) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:47PM (#15886020)
    You said one thing right:
    In order to be fair, this ultimatum should be only *after* we have stopped our meddling in the Middle East. All troops should first be unilaterally withdrawn and all aid to Israel should cease.

    I think you'd find that if the US did that, all of the attacks would stop.
  • by Xiroth (917768) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:50PM (#15886040)
    So...in the case of the home-grown British rail bombers, who should they have attacked? Themselves?
  • by samkass (174571) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:50PM (#15886043) Homepage Journal
    ...Because if there's one thing better than folks whose government dislikes us but whose population is ambivalent, it's a country with a desperate, starving population with nothing to lose and whose brothers, sisters, parents and babies we've killed.

    Seriously, the only way to stop this stuff in the long term is cooperation and a sharing of cultures. The amount of energy at the disposal of each person on Earth is becoming more massive each year, and we're never going to catch everyone. We need to begin the process of stopping them from wanting to attack us. That means marginalizing the radical elements of both their culture and ours (people such as yourself), and eliminating those people's support among their peers (that's us, modding you down).
  • by pete6677 (681676) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:51PM (#15886053)
    True. I wish high speed rail would become a reality in the United States. The first step would be removing the broken-beyond-repair disaster known as Amtrak so that a competent agency can take their place. Currently, politics prevents passenger rail in the U.S. from being anything but a miserable failure.
  • by Lead Butthead (321013) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:51PM (#15886054) Journal
    I am sure they're all just laughing their heads off at this very moment.
  • 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 couchslug (175151) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:54PM (#15886067)
    "We have a strong, technologically advanced military. It's time that we used it to put the fear of God into our enemies. "
    We HAD one, then came the post-Gulf War drawdown (woo hoo! we gonna git da Peace Dividend!) after which the Chuck Spinney-predicted Bow Wave ("tsunami" is more like it) coupled with Rumsfelds insistance on not using the 9/11 mandate to rebuild the armed forces left us strung out and overstretched.
    The US military has exhausted the Reagan-era equipment we have relied on for the past two decades, and "transformation" ain't happening. We don't have the resources to "carpet bomb" much of anything. Most of SAC and TAC went to AMARC or the smelter.
    Now we are shitcanning 40,000 airmen to pay for jets we cannot afford because leadership refuses to buy in quantities that allow economies of scale. Good luck if we actually have to fight someone that is both competent and has an air force...
    Not that I'm bitter. :)
  • There should be an ultimatum: if there is another terrorist attack or attacks causing major loss of life, any country found to be harboring and/or funding Islamic terrorists will be attacked. Not invaded. Attacked. Their cities will be summarily carpet-bombed...

    It's a reasonably good strategic response to a rational state-like entity whose strength is in their infrastructure, especially in a situation like, say, Afghanistan, where there's close cooperation between the state and the terroists. It loses a considerable amount of its strategic value against non-state actors whose life depends on in the appeal of their ideology, and where the state and the terrorists may have at best an uneasy state of coexistence.

    In many cases, what we want from states which are in the uneasy-coexistence state (or better) is greater cooperation in pursuing and apprehending terrorists, and in suppressing radical Islamist elements. That greater cooperation has to come both from the authorities and population. Carpet-bombing a city is unlikely to produce the cooperation. Nor is it particularly improbable it could create sympathy for radical Islamist claims.

  • by Brett Buck (811747) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @09:55PM (#15886074)
    Given that it's slashdot, no. If that had happened, the board would be filled with posts about how Chimpy McBushitler failed to protect America and got those otherwise thoughtful and kind guys in al Queda and Hezbollah mad at us by invading the peaceful and happy shangri-la of Iraq. Where little kids flew kites in carefree safety and freedom.

    Instead we get a board with posts about how terrible it is for people to have to take their shoes off and put toothpaste in their checked baggage, because Chimpy McBushitler... (fill in the rest with typical DU and KosKids tinfoil hat conspiracy theories).

            Brett
  • 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.
  • Mod Parent Up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by quanticle (843097) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:17PM (#15886186) Homepage
    You've hit the nail on the head. The OP's strategy would work great against Iran, or Syria or some other active sponsor of terror. But in many cases, like with Pakistan, or Columbia, or the Phillippines, such a strategy would backfire badly. The collective punishment of the entire populace would simply make the terrorists there more popular, as they'd be the only ones seen doing anything against "American aggression."
  • by jkf (85908) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:18PM (#15886188)
    I think that you can put your toothpaste in your checked luggage.

    While I can agree for the most part with your other points, it will be a cold day in hell before I ever check my laptop, ipod or cellphone like the UK is now requiring for flights to the US.
  • 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 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 Tim_sama (993132) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:23PM (#15886223) Journal
    Hmm. Maybe if airlines were really that worried about hijackers they would start whining at Boeing to make a 747 in which the cockpit uses a separate entrance from the rest of the plane, so even if some psycho with nail clippers and shampoo does happen to get on board, the worst he can do is give someone a really bad manicure. Sure, it won't stop explosives from getting into the planes, but it would be a start.

    Personally, though, my money's on AirTaxi.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:27PM (#15886245)
    So would you support the bombing of governments that target civilians, but aren't Islamic, or is this a religious crusade? Because if it's not an anti-Islam thang, you just condoned the attacks on the WTC in September 2001, and pretty much everything Hezbollah's been up to. Your kind of retarded dick-thinking is what got the world into this mess. Please shut up now, and let the post-adolescents try to work this out little boy.
  • by shystershep (643874) * <bdshepherd.gmail@com> on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:28PM (#15886251) Homepage Journal

    Better read your quotes again.

    If you think banning toothpaste in carry-ons == giving up liberty, you've got some issues. It's no wonder that real liberties can be eroded (e.g., wiretaps) when a minor inconvenience like this provokes as big (if not bigger) storm of whining and crying than does something serious. I don't seem to recall a "right to convenient airline flight" in the Bill of Rights, but maybe I overlooked that. I find it incredibly sad that petty annoyances that directly effect people makes them more irate than would something happening to truly infringe on an important right, like freedom of religion or the press.

    Flying itself is a convenience, as opposed to slower methods of transportation. If you find it too inconvenient, take another mode of transit. There are posts in this thread whining about the lack of high-speed rail in the U.S. (which would be ridiculously inefficent for 99% of our country; as an aside, it works in Europe and other places because of smaller geographic space and higher population densities), but the fact is that there is bus service (Grayhound) to nearly everywhere you could possibly want to go. There are very few situations I can think of where anyone would actually "need" to fly: the speed of travel makes it far more convenient, so it is the logical option most of the time. In spite of all the bitching and moaning going on here, I bet most if not all of the bitchers and moaners are still going to get on the plane next time, just because it is the more convenient option.

    If your rights are being trampled on, stand up and fight. If you insist on confusing 'convenience' with 'right,' though, sit down and shut the hell up.

  • by dreamer-of-rules (794070) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:31PM (#15886270)
    Is this a troll? I just can't tell anymore..

    Those US soldiers in Iraq are not protecting MY freedoms. If that's their goal, they're doing a piss-poor job of it, because MY freedoms have been getting reduced and eliminated left and right since the infamous 9/11 tragedy.

    Maybe they are over there to "bring freedom and democracy to Iraq" instead? That wasn't the given reason at the beginning. The Bush administration was telling everyone that Saddam had "ties" with Al Quaeda and Saddam was actively developing chemical and nuclear WMDs, and Rumsfeld said they knew exactly where. Fast forward several years.. We are $450 BILLION dollars deeper in debt because of this war (here you are, son), even while pork spending has increased, freedoms and rights have decreased, our volunteer forces have been stretched beyond their sustainable limits, and over 100 THOUSAND people have died as a result of this incompetently planned war. And we are no safer from terrorism in 2006 than in 1996.

    Truth is, the soldiers over there are obeying orders, and generally obeying them well. The orders are what's fucked up, and the reason we're over there in the first place, and it's a fucking crime that we're at WAR in Iraq at all.

    Back to the shampoo bottles.. do you think it matters to a suicide bomber whether the explosives are in the carry-ons or the checked luggage? Or whether the utensils are plastic? Forget whether you feel safer? Are you safer?
  • If they kill 100 or 1,000 our innocent civilians, you think we should respond by killing thousands or tens of thousands of innocent their civilians? That's about the only thing I can think of that will swell the terrorist ranks more quickly than our current meddling in the region. You're not exactly dealing with rational, cost-benefit type people here: they place zero value on human life, including (maybe especially) their own. The nuclear standoff of the Cold War worked because the USSR didn't want war anymore than we did. To a radical Islamist, mutually-assured destructions just looks like the express line to heaven.
  • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:39PM (#15886329)
    To a radical Islamist, mutually-assured destructions just looks like the express line to heaven.

    The point is that, while many people in certain countries may somewhat support the radical Islamists, a relatively small fraction of the population is actually willing to take the express train to heaven. If they realized that the actions of the radical Islamists had dire consequences, they might well take it upon themselves to eliminate the radical Islamists.

    -b,

  • by wiremind (183772) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:41PM (#15886341)
    very well put..

    The only thing I over-heard which would upset me is 'no water bottles' I find airplanes extremely dry, so I'll usually take 2 - 1 liter bottles of water with me, ( yeah, thats a guarenteed bathroom break, ha ha ). But seriously, without a good constant stream of water, my eyes are burning, my mouth is all clammy, and twice, i've had nose bleeds. ( i take about 4 round trip flights a year ) So to lose something as basic as water would really frustrate me.

    But as i stated at the beginning " I over-heard ", so it may not even be that bad.

    I really wonder how business travellers are gonna handle this...
  • by Herby Sagues (925683) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:49PM (#15886393)
    I don't like Bush a bit, but I find your argument absurd. Al Quaeda might be as large as they want, but they are failing. This news is about a STOPPED attack. IIRC in 9/11 the airplanes actually hit their targets. This attack, and the few previous ones (along with a few we probably don't know about) have all been foiled by the guys you are criticizing. I don't know if it is the right strategy, as leaving those guys alone might be a better solution. Maybe the war on terror is out of proportion, maybe it is unfair. But it seems to be it is being effective at foiling attacks.
  • 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 b0s0z0ku (752509) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @10:54PM (#15886416)
    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 there, just old-fashioned graft and patronage.

    -b.

  • 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.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AlphaOne (209575) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @11:06PM (#15886478)
    Asking people to remove their shoes and preventing them from bringing liquids on board is that invasive? There are the rare extreme cases of people being unfairly searched, but that's a handful of people out of hundreds of thousands that fly each day.

    Well, yes and no.

    Our current commercial airline security system sucks and it is no better now than it was before 9-11. They continue to look for "stuff" instead of doing threat analysis. They continue to treat the passengers as the weakest link. They continue to ignore the thousands of other ways to get bad stuff onto airliners. Whenever something like this comes up in the news, they renew their focus on passenger screening and add whatever the threatening item of the day is to their list of stuff you can't bring aboard airliners.

    The simple truth is nearly anything can be a weapon when in a skilled hand, and bombs can be made out of items that seem harmless.

    The only real solution is a comprehensive approach to security. While passengers are the most obvious entry-point, there are dozens of other ways that items make their way onto airliners that aren't examined. The big deal right now is air cargo, as it's not searched at all, and it's put in the belly of the plane right under your feet. However, there's also catering and provisions, maintenance, luggage handlers, the TSA themselves, and a whole slew of other support personnel that go through no security at the start of each shift and the majority of which have full, unsupervised access to aircraft.

    Why don't we search these people? Because it's impractical and costly. One could argue that, as part of the hiring process, these people would be thoroughly checked out, but I assure you the checks aren't nearly as thorough as you think they are or should be.

    So, to answer your original question, is it invasive to have to discard all of your liquid or gel items as you go through security? No. Is it going to make any difference? No.

    Instead of bringing it on in gel or liquid form, they'll weave it into a fabric and wear it or they'll use prescription drugs, dissolved into liquids served aboard the aircraft, detonated by their digital watch or they'll have their good friend in provisions put something in a cart or they'll send something via cargo or they'll come up with something never considered before. After many years of going back and forth, we'll be forbidden from wearing clothing aboard aircraft, will be served nothing in the cabin, and the prices will go way up because there's no cargo in the hold anymore and it will still suffer from insecurity.

    Am I advocating doing nothing? Absolutely not... security is necessary. However it needs to be put into context... huge efforts in screening sometimes produce small results in security. We should be striving for the small efforts in screening that produce large results in security.
  • by Wovel (964431) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @11:13PM (#15886511) Homepage
    The head in the sand approach to terrorism is why over 3000 people died on 9/11. Thanks for trying to revive it.
  • by MadDog Bob-2 (139526) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @11:19PM (#15886536)

    And now I'm feeding the trolls...

    9/11 wasn't about box cutters. It was about the fact that standard operating procedure in a hijacking was to appease the hijackers until the plane was on the ground. The important lesson was learned right away, and the fourth plane was demoted from a force multiplier to a murder scene. The specific means by which they took over the planes are, in a very real sense, beside the point.

    If somebody is committed to detonating a bomb on a plane, and doesn't mind being on board when it happens, there is very little to be done about it.

    And yet, how often does it happen? Was it a toothpaste prohibition at Heathrow that prevented this current batch of bombings?

    So now, without having set foot on a plane, these terrorists have managed to leave a shockingly large fraction of the population afraid of toothpaste!

    Life involves risks, any number of which are more immediate than terrorist bombings. It seems as if the government wants us all living in fear, but I have no intention of doing it. It's just that simple.

  • 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 Mouse42 (765369) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @11:29PM (#15886597)
    Oh. well... Bush just doesn't want Islamic Facism. Christian Facism is just fine.
  • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flooey (695860) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @11:44PM (#15886658)
    It's not our job to convince you of anything. It's our job to protect you from you and other assholes who would seek to do you and the rest of us harm. It's by rule of majority - that means we keep everybody safe, and disregard the snippy rantings of part-time quarterbacks. In interests such as these, the safety of all outweighs the convenience of the one. Just as you think we're too dumb to protect you, we think you're too dumb to protect yourself.

    As a fellow civil servant, let me say that this paragraph is an excellent example of a widespread opinion within the government that I think is completely ridiculous: that the average American is somehow below the average civil servant. I can't stand it, whether it's the lady at the DMV who can't understand why people are annoyed at having to stand in line for hours or the serviceman who thinks that because you're not carrying a gun you're not serving the United States.

    The business of the United States isn't government. It's agriculture and manufacturing and research and information. By and large, the people who actually make the United States great aren't the people working for the government. That's why we're called civil servants; we're here to help those people so they can spend their time doing what's actually important without having to worry about things like being robbed or having their radio interfered with or getting fleeced by a cheating business.

    When we get in the way of that, they're perfectly right to call us on it. Sure, the intrusion may be necessary, and they may not have any idea what's actually going on, but to claim that we don't have to convince them of anything because this is our job is missing the whole point of our job in the first place. They're not our bosses, but they are our customers.
  • by samkass (174571) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @11:47PM (#15886675) Homepage Journal
    Great idea, the only problem is that both sides (ie the Anglo-American Axis and the Pan-Islamic fundamentalists) want everyone else in the world to adopt their respective cultural values and to cooperate, unilateraly in a very one-sided, one-way, master-slave arrangement.

    While perhaps true on a national level, I have not found this to be true of most individuals not directly affected by the national actions (ie. having been bombed in retaliation for something they had no control over). And the more individuals travel and interact with each other's culture, the less this is true. Eventually those folks become leaders and change the system.

    I don't think it's coincidence that Bush was one of the least-traveled presidents in recent history and is making so many horrible blunders. I've known and worked with plenty of muslims, and none of them particularly cared if America or I adopted their cultural values. And I sure don't care if they do. I would prefer they (and us) generally respect all of their citizens, and recognize basic human rights, but I think in general a "survival of the fittest" system will take care of that in the long term. (ie. Countries with more racism, sexism, and inequality will under-utilize their citizen's talents and get worse "return on investment" per citizen trained/fed/supported. Maybe I've played too many Civ-style simulation games :). )

    What were we talking about again? Oh, right... airline security. Insta-bombing campaigns is unlikely to help with that, either.
  • by rk (6314) * on Thursday August 10, 2006 @11:50PM (#15886687) Journal

    " the only security check I have to worry about is to make sure the doors are locked when I stop for breaks. :) It's freedom!"

    As long as you're not traveling through California, where you'll have to stop for an agricultural inspection, or if you're on I-10 coming out of El Paso, then we'll have to check to make sure you're not smuggling illegals, or the various random sobriety checkpoints scattered throughout, or...

  • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75&yahoo,com> on Thursday August 10, 2006 @11:53PM (#15886701)
    Let's review what we know: Terrorists are 1) usually middle eastern 2) always Muslim

    You mean except when they're named Timothy McVeigh or Terry Nichols?

    Or how about Thomas G. Doty, who bombed a Continental Airlines 707 in 1962, killing all on board?

    Or, internationally, what about Kim Hyun Hee, who bombed a Korean Airlines 707 as an agent for North Korea in 1987? (No, I'm not talking about flight 007, which was shot down by the USSR.)

    Or what about Inderjit Singh Reyat, who constructed the bomb that brought down Air India flight 182 in 1985? Oh, but he's of Indian descent, and I guess to you "they all look the same" over there. (Even though he was Canadian...)

    Or how about John Graham, who bombed United Airlines flight 629 in 1955?

    That's just scratching the surface; I haven't included bombings where non-muslim extremists from Latin America, the Balkans, or Asia are suspected but not named.

    Still going to cling to your theory that terrorists are "always Muslim" or even "usually middle-eastern"? The vast majority of airliner bombings have been perpetrated by non-muslim, non-middle easterners. They're not always political (at least two of the above were life insurance scams), but that hardly matters to the passengers, who are just as dead.
  • by rabel (531545) on Friday August 11, 2006 @12:00AM (#15886727)
    Ummm, noooo. People's capacity to be completely ignorant amazes me. You're obviously a Republican moron who sees the boogey man in every dark corner and immediately assumes that anyone who isn't also afraid of the dark corners is in league with the boogey men. You, sir, are the one without a brain.

    The point is, removing toothpaste from carry-on luggage is overexaggerating the threat. The great-grandparent comment mentioned "take your chances" and I was simply pointing out that one's chances of being killed by a terrorist attack is abysmal. Someone like you, who thinks that he's all smart and above the fray, likes to point out what *could* happen in the big, bad, world. Someone like myself, who has been living life, taking chances, and acknowleging the risks inherit in the big, bad, world, understands that bad stuff happens but realizes that freedom, personal responsibility, and avoidance of draconian authority, invasive security measures and fascistic government intrusion are much, much, worse than the miniscule chance of some nutjob deciding to blow up a plane or say something that might possibly disagree with the President within earshot of the President himself! Gasp!

    Go back to your little fear-ridden, scaredy-cat, "oh please, protect me from the boogey man, mommy!" world and let the rest of us grown-ups get on with our lives.
  • by linguae (763922) on Friday August 11, 2006 @12:04AM (#15886751)
    I'm not quite sure how banning items that may be disguised explosives is irrational, but whatever.

    Any explosive can be disguised as anything. All a potential terrorist has to do now is to disguise a explosive in something that isn't currently banned. Let's say that a terrorist is able to place a hard drive-sized bomb in a laptop. Do we ban laptops now? Any explosive can be disguised, and any object can be made a weapon if you throw it in the right angle. Banning everything we see just because of some irrational fear of "oh my god! oh my god! Terrorist can do this, and this, and that" is a ridiculous policy, and it doesn't stop a true terrorist. At best it just inconviences travellers, and at worst it just gives terrorists new ideas.

    Your remark about the list of restrictions is exactly my point: whining about the inconsequential annoyances distracts from the bigger problems. Life is full of government restrictions, from not being able to smoke in public buildings in some places to having to pay sometimes arbitrary taxes. If people get more worked up about the petty irritations than the important issues -- and they do -- the important issues get pushed aside.

    This is an important issue. It's the government's irrational anti-terror measures that are causing more and more irritations each day. Government officials aren't reacting out of common sense, they are reacting out of irrational fear. And, you just thrown another "grow up, suck it up, c'est la vie" comment that a lot of other people are saying these days. The terrorists have already won if we have to dramatically change the way that we live our lives just because we have some irrational fear that the bogeyman is out to get us. Look at the facts. How many terrorist attacks happen in America per year? Now, how many people die from car crashes/heart attacks/old age/murders/suicides/etc. each day?

    All of these anti-terror measures are getting out of hand. But this is what the terrorists want. They want us to live in fear every day. They want us to give up all of the conviences and freedoms that we have. And you're suggesting that we just bend over and take it, as if it were the same thing as taxation and other laws.

    Somebody please change this current attitude and policy of security through fear mongering. All of this security and anti-terrorism policies is starting to get really bad and reek of the old days of the Soviet Union. In the 80s, we prided ourselves of travelling anywhere within the country without having to go to a desk with a guy saying "Papers, please." That was restricted to places like the Soviet Union. Now it is not only "papers, please," but it is also a growing list of banned items that do not make sense to ban. Once again, anything can be made a weapon. Do we ban everything, or do we think of sensible policies?

    We need to end this war on terror now, before we lose serious freedoms. All of this stuff is a small but growing list of annoyances for the most part. But if this doesn't end, they'll start taking away some real freedoms.

  • I agree with your position -- I fly on business all the time, and I want (hell, I expect) my government, if it doesn't do anything else for me that day, to at least make traveling reasonably safe.

    On the other hand, the security that they do implement seems like a total waste of time. People have already pointed out the problems with the "no liquids" rule: what about liquid medications? Do you not let people with liquid medications on? If you don't, you might kill them or make it much harder for them to travel; if you don't, the whole "no liquids" exercise was pointless, since all you need to do is get an Rx medicine bottle, fill it up with your liquid explosive, and take it on board. (It's even better than putting it in a water bottle, because nobody can reasonably demand that you take a big swig to prove it's not poison -- many medications are poison, or close to it.)

    Plus, all the additional restrictions apply only to hand luggage. If you're not putting the same level of scrutiny on every single checked bag (which they don't, because they don't have the resources to do so; it improved slightly after 9/11 but they still do more to hand luggage -- because that's where people will see the security, so that's where it gets put -- than to checked stuff) then someone could put the liquid-bomb there, and remote detonate it from the cabin with a transmitter like every other person in this country already carries on their keychain.

    Planes are big, fragile machines; it doesn't take very much to knock one out of the sky. Eventually, I think a few things are going to happen, because the current way we're approaching security just isn't working, and isn't going to work. It's designed to create the appearance of security, not security itself. Probably the biggest step we're going to have to take is to eliminate jumbo and super-jumbo jets: when you have people hell-bent on blowing themselves up, it's not practical to assume that you're going to catch all of them. Thus you can't put so many "eggs" in one basket, either in terms of just the lives lost if one of them is crashed, or by giving the attackers such a large weapon (both literally and in terms of public relations). Smaller, lighter, more fuel-efficient jets, going to more localized airports (further removing some of the terrible centralization our system suffers from now), are probably the best way of limiting the consequences of an attack.

    There is just no way to prevent someone who is so absorbed with the task of killing others that they're willing to destroy themselves, from accomplishing their task. Any screening procedure will have holes. Any background check will have places where information can be injected, manipulated, omitted, or forged.

    The problem we have, and which our government (and the airline industry generally) isn't willing to tackle, is not something that's going to be solved by issuing a few new procedures to the TSA screeners. It's something that can only be mitigated, and even then will require a huge systemic overhaul of our transportation infrastructure, removing the centralized points of failure that we've built up as ready targets for terrorism, and replacing them with a more robust, fault-tolerant, and survivable one.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Friday August 11, 2006 @12:19AM (#15886821) Homepage
    The simple truth is nearly anything can be a weapon when in a skilled hand,

    Yup. I can't carry my wooden practice sword into the cabin, but I can bring my wooden cane. I know the cane form a lot better than the sword form right now, so if you're really looking to disarm me, take my cane away. Oh, you think I need that to walk with, so you won't do that. Oops.
  • by NormalVisual (565491) on Friday August 11, 2006 @12:19AM (#15886824)
    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 leader and his trigger-happy lackey in that list.

    Despite what the federal and state constitutions say, it's pretty much a given that the government is going to do whatever it damn well feels like, and unless you've got some deep pockets to fight them in court there's not a whole lot you can do about it within the bounds of the law.
  • by operagost (62405) on Friday August 11, 2006 @12:20AM (#15886829) Homepage Journal
    I'm not one who summarily approves of these ridiculous security measures, but when a government really intends on becoming a police state, it doesn't start by restricting its citizens' rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of dental hygiene. It does it by performing random (i.e., UNREASONABLE) searches and seizures, of which I am 100% against. The first federal judge or legislator who brutally strikes down the abomination of routine humiliation that passes for aiport screening checkpoints will get my personal gratitude.
  • by shmlco (594907) on Friday August 11, 2006 @12:35AM (#15886893) Homepage
    "This news is about a STOPPED attack."

    Well... just to be contrary... and putting on my tinfoil hat, the news is that, as far as we've been told, some 24 as yet unnamed people in London and Pakistan have been detained under anti-terror laws and can be held incommunicado for a month while investigation continues. The British government has said that an attack on trans-atlantic flights was imminent, but I've yet to hear about any actual bombs, materials, or detonators found.

    Though if the ingredients are indeed "common" household chemicals, I've no doubt that some ex-girlfriend's bottle of peroxide in their medicine cabinet is now proof enough to get them sent away. Heck, I'VE got peroxide at home, AND I have a camera with a flash.

    The point being that at this point in time there's a whole lot of pontification, and very few facts. Everyone, even Wired, is running the same damned AP article. And for some reason I'm strongly reminded of the other highly ballyhooed and recently foiled "plot", by individuals with no money, training, materials, plan, or even shoes...
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Friday August 11, 2006 @12:40AM (#15886914)
    I'm sorry to hear your oft-exercised right to in-cabin oral hygiene is being trampled upon. Put your bathroom items in the bags you check in; you may continue to luxuriate in your hypochondria after the plane lands.

    It's not that people can't adapt to small shifts. They can and usually do. The problem people have here is that they realize that adapting to each shift is an acceptance of the extra quarter degree of heat. --The eventual result of which, when all those quarter degree increases are added together, is that the water will boil and the frog will die. Why doesn't the frog jump out before the water boils? Because it's easier to pretend that small shifts don't matter than it is to do something to remedy the situation.


    -FL

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:00AM (#15886997) Homepage
    I don't like Bush a bit, but I find your argument absurd. Al Quaeda might be as large as they want, but they are failing. This news is about a STOPPED attack

    Maybe...maybe not. Al Quaeda is now in a position where they can cause serious disruption, whether or not their attacks succeed. All they need to do now is recruit people who are willing to come to Europe or the US, plot an attack, and get caught, and each time this happens, we'll have days or weeks of disruption in travel and shipping.

    They can probably cause more damage to the economy with failed attacks than with real attacks, because they can pull off many more failed attacks in a given time.

    And we can't even adapt to this and ignore the failed attacks, because if we don't take them seriously, real attacks will slip through.

  • Re:Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jfmiller (119037) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:04AM (#15887019) Homepage Journal
    I carry one large backpack with a change of cloth, my toiletries and my laptop because my record for receiving my checked luggage at the other end is currently 61.5%. (also because it used to be the recommendation of the FAA) If the airlines/ g'ment would like me to use the checked baggage system then they will need to institute something like the following: Any passenger not receiving a checked piece of luggage within 3 hours of parking breaks having been set is entitled to $500 in cash (activated atm card is fine) immediately and overnight shipping of the lost item(s) to an address of passengers choosing. In the event the luggage is never recovered (currently 7.7% of my flights) $7500 will be paid to the passenger within 120 days.

    This would both assure me that I would be duly compensated for loss and inconvenience and provide a much stronger incentive for the airlines to get it right the first time. Until then I will continue to drive to anyplace west of the Mississippi and carry on as much as I can when I need to fly cross country. If this rule lasts much longer there will be a boom in sales of dehydrated toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo all of which are currently available in specialty camping supply houses.

    JFMILLER
  • 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 hullabalucination (886901) * on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:12AM (#15887051) Journal

    What The Prez says:

    Bush the younger, who thinks that Al-Quada are "Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation," - that's a direct quote from today.

    What Mr. Bin Laden says:

    "We should fully understand our religion. Fighting is a part of our religion and our Sharia [an Islamic legal code]. Those who love God and his Prophet and this religion cannot deny that. Whoever denies even a minor tenet of our religion commits the gravest sin in Islam.

    "Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God . . . . I am confident that Muslims will be able to end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America." Time Magazine

    "We--with God's help--call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson." Feb. 1998 - Bin Laden edict

    "We love death. The US loves life. That is the difference between us two."

    I would say that The Prez has pretty much got it nailed.

    * * * * * * *

    I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it.
    --Groucho Marx

  • by shmlco (594907) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:16AM (#15887074) Homepage
    "Planes are big, fragile machines; it doesn't take very much to knock one out of the sky. "

    Planes are like people. Sometimes it doesn't take much to kill one (single spark in a fuel tank), and at other times they're amazingly tough. A small hole isn't going to do a lot of damage, and even a large one is problematic. Take a look at, say, the Aloha Air flight that still flew with a major hunk missing from the fuselage.

    Checked luggage is also not as big a risk as you might think. Many planes these days use luggage containers and compartments encased in ballistic materials designed to contain the force of an explosion and release the pressure (relatively) gradually.

    Maybe, if airline travel becomes too much of a hassle, trans-atlantic ocean liners will once again appear on the scene...
  • by Cramer (69040) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:28AM (#15887117) Homepage
    You haven't flown recently, have you? Nobody checks anything if they can even remotely get away from it. Last time I flew (a few months ago), there were people carrying on things that would hardly fit through the door -- they knew damn well it was too big... the "if your bag doesn't fit in here" things are all over the airport. There are two reasons for this... first and foremost, carry-on stuff never leaves your sight and often never leaves your hands. So, It. Doesn't. Get. Lost. (or stolen/picked up by mistake) Since you are carrying it, it goes exactly where you go. Second, checked items are subject to TSA "inspection" which too often translates to breakage and theft.
  • Counterfactual (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alienmole (15522) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:32AM (#15887126)

    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 cheaper than air in many (most?) cases, and that's not just because of market distortion etc. Building a faster, more ubiquitous and more reliable rail system wouldn't help bring costs down.

    NY to Chicago is an 18-hour train trip. NY to LA is something like 56 hours, IIRC. Faster train systems would help, but no country in the world has succeeded in making train travel a really viable system over such long distances. The U.S. dependence on jet travel is a pretty rational one, assuming you don't hanker for the days when travelling across country and back was a multi-week affair.
  • by linguae (763922) on Friday August 11, 2006 @01:56AM (#15887197)
    name one way in which the 'war on terror' has affected you, personally

    Let's begin:

    1. You are now carded for state/federal ID to buy bus or train tickets on Amtrak or Greyhound. I don't know long the policy has existed, nor do I have too much of an issue with this, but back in my parents days, they weren't carded for going a few hundred miles.
    2. A local dam road (that was very popular with commuters) was closed forever (since immediately after the 9/11 attacks) because the Feds feared that somebody may come over there and explode it. Nothing has happened. The road hasn't been reopened since, and even though the city requests that the road should be reopened, the Feds continue to refuse. Traffic has gotten much worse in that area (they now must find another bridge across, which is a mile away and is now stressed), and has affected the entire community as a whole.
    3. The War on Iraq has raised gas prices. Prices were about $30 per barrel before the war started. Now they are approaching $75. Gas is $3.15 per gallon where I live, and rising. If we have a war with Iran, it's going to approach $4 or more. Gas prices affect the entire economy, and hits everybody's pocketbooks.
    4. I am worried about the government's increased surveillance. I don't want my searches, web sites, message board postings, and other online stuff all indexed and mined by the federal government. I don't want my chats monitored, or my cell phone calls wiretapped. I just wish to be left alone.

    Those are the issues that are affecting me the most. The first one might not be so serious (although it still reminds me of the "papers, please" policy of the Soviets), and the second one may only be a local issue, but the latter two are big pressing issues that are a direct consequence of our War on Terror policies.

    The best way to fight terror isn't to make our government bigger and to impose countless amounts of restrictions on our citizens, as well as curb civil liberties, listen in on our conversations, and log our data. The best way to fight terror is for the government to get out of Middle Eastern (or any other foreign) conflict. The sooner we exit, the sooner the Middle Easterners won't hate us anymore (hence, no terror attacks from them or any other foreign country), and the sooner we can return to some sense of sanity again. We'll have no terrorism if there is no reason for terrorists to terrorize us in the first place.

  • 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.
  • by hendersj (720767) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:03AM (#15887217)
    I guess we shouldn't be whining about the "convenience" we should be whining about our fucking right to set our shoes on fire.

    I agree with the earlier sentiment in your post, but the above quote caught my eye.

    Yeah, because one fucking incompetent asshole tried it once, we should change the list of allowed items.

    Let me say that again for the grandparent post. ONE...FUCKING...INCOMPETENT...ASSHOLE...

    Yeah, that makes a lot of rational sense. One person in six billion+ on this planet tried to ignite his shoes on an airplane, so we (a) ban matches on planes, and (b) require everyone take their shoes off (well, at some airports - this isn't standardized procedure at different airports) and run them through an X-Ray machine.

    That's rational? What must it be like to be so frightened all the time?

    Before you jump all over me - I *have* been delayed at an airport (Dulles) because TSA couldn't identify items in my suitcase as being non-dangerous. I carried an electric razor out to DC with me and it was dead when I got there; I purchased another one, and left the old one in my bag. I carried the bag on on both flights (the flight out and my return flight) with the same contents, except the return flight had one extra electric razor in it. Other contents were clothes, toothpaste/toothbrush, and a couple cases of CDs of software I was going to use.

    Apparently, two electric razors and two packs of CDs are identifiable as an explosive device when viewed on the X-Ray machine. You heard me right - they identified two electric razors and two packs of CDs as an explosive device. I was delayed - at the checkpoint - for 45 minutes, most of that time the bag was in the X-Ray machine. The TSA personnel were very professional and even apologetic for the delay - even the head guy, who asked me directly "is there anything in your bag that might look like a bomb?", which took me aback a little bit. (The correct answer, BTW, is "I wouldn't know what a bomb looks like, sir.") After I recited a complete list of the contents of my bags from memory to them, they decided it was safe to open it, found out what the objects really were, and I was on my way.

    I didn't mind the delay at the time - told them I had plenty of time before the flight, but they offered to have the flight held for me rather than for me to miss the flight if it was close to departure. To this day, I still don't mind that particular delay, because they were professional about the situation and it didn't get out of hand. I also returned that courtesy, recognizing that they're doing a job that at the best of times can be difficult.

    But changing the procedures/list of banned items because one incompetent asshole does something that's never been done before? That's completely irrational. That puts the power in the hands of the terrorists - they don't even have to pull off a successful attack to instill terror (why do you think they call it "terrorism"? I'll give you a clue: it's not because of the big fireballs in the sky; it's because of the fear that the idea instills in their targets.) - all they have to do is come up with an idea nobody's ever thought of before, and we'll dance for them. We'll change our way of living just so no Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorist will ever have the chance of bringing a tube of toothpaste into an airplane lavatory in order to mix it with water because who knows, it might just explode!

    Next it'll be a ban on any Diet Coke and Mentos in the hold, because of the potential of blowing out the cargo door on the plane from the combination of those two deadly ingredients. Or, better yet, a ban on vinegar because it's mildly corrosive and might eat through the airframe. Or, no, wait, I've got it - anyone with hands. You can kill a person with your hands in a number of ways - so only persons who have had both arms amputated can board planes now. No, wait, you can still kick someone to death if you know what you're doing. OK, only people with no arms and no legs
  • by chriso11 (254041) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:07AM (#15887229) Journal
    I would say that The Prez has pretty much got it nailed.

    Which is why we are in Iraq...
  • by shmlco (594907) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:12AM (#15887245) Homepage
    There are extremists on BOTH sides of the fence. I know we have people here who think a little nuke or three dropped in the right spots would "show 'em who's boss."

    However, MOST people, Christians and Islamists alike, would just like to have a decent job, a roof over their heads, enough food to eat, and the desire to send healthy kids off to school in the morning with a reasonable expectation that they'll stay that way.

    Bin Laden has a distorted view of his religion, and an agenda to push. GWB also has a distorted view of his religion, and also has an agenda to push.

    Personally, I think the planet would be better off with both of them locked away somewhere. Let them fight it out, and the rest of us can get on with living our lives...
  • by megaditto (982598) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:23AM (#15887271)
    You know, that election in 90 days ain't gonna win itself.

    So yeah, I say time to drop the toothpaste and pick up the Terror Level crank.

    See here, most voters are far too dumb to know what's good for them. So if we don't scare them a little, who knows how the idiots will vote...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:27AM (#15887287)
    No, over 3000 people died on 9/11 because of incompetence in the intelligence community, a lack of human intelligence and too much dependence on signals intelligence with no follow through.

    Oh, and a lack of people in the intelligence community who speak Arabic, apparently. They had recordings of phone calls that discussed it that were just waiting to be translated.

    Of course, our military seems to think that it's more significant that a member of the forces is gay than the fact that they can speak Arabic. At least one member of the forces was dismissed because he's gay, yet he speaks Arabic as well - but that didn't seem to matter to the people in charge.
  • by drsquare (530038) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:37AM (#15887317)
    By your insane logic, you're not very likely to be killed by a serial killer, so the police shouldn't bother catching them.
  • by babbling (952366) on Friday August 11, 2006 @02:59AM (#15887387)
    1. The current "foiled attack" is quite obviously fictional:
    A senior congressional source told CNN that the plot was believed to hinge on mixing an energy drink with a gel-like substance inflight to create a potent explosive capable of being ignited by an MP3 player or mobile phone. [smh.com.au]
    Unhook your brain from the government propaganda and think about that for a second. Energy drink + gel + MP3 player/mobile phone = terrorist attack? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

    2. Operation Northwoods demonstrates that the US government would consider faking terrorist attacks. It's not the only example of the US government being dishonest, so can we at least agree that they can't be trusted, in general? I can cite more examples, if you really want, but I think we can agree on this.

    3. I don't deny that there are terrorists who want to attack the US/UK, but what I intend to point out is that whenever an attack is "foiled", that may just be political propaganda. When an attack happens, it may be that the government had a role in it, if it suits their political agenda. That role might involve execution, or might just involve letting it happen despite knowing about it. No one can be sure about this. It almost happened in 1962. What has changed so much about the US government since 1962 that makes them most trustworthy today?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 11, 2006 @03:19AM (#15887435)
    Sheesh! Did you screw that up just to make the opposite point?

    The way it goes is: Because you are not very likely to be killed by a serial killer, you should not spend anything more than a trivial amount of time thinking about it.

    Just as with "terrorist scares" (OMG!!!) the media and government attention distortion field exaggerates the actual risk by orders of magnitude.

    My wife won't let the kids -- who are old enough -- to play in the front yard for fear they might be kidnapped. Seriously. Even though the odds are that we're more likely to win $100-mil in the lottery, this is where my wife wastes her worrying -- and is turning the kids into a bunch of paranoids.

    THAT is the result of the CRAP, overly emotional, basic instinct "news" reporting in this country. It is also the result of a government that gains power from such fears and reinforces them whenever possible.

    No, this does not mean the bomb threat wasn't real. It does not mean there are not "bad people" out there. It means that the odds of any of these things affecting your life are infintisimally, trivially small, and you SHOULD NOT SPEND ANY SIGNIFICANT TIME WORRYING ABOUT IT.
  • by new500 (128819) on Friday August 11, 2006 @04:37AM (#15887633)
    In fact if anything, governments once upon a time played down the impact of terrorist activity. I mean it's logic, isn't it - if you keep crying wolf, ultimately the government's authority is undermined? Bush & Blair ought to be forced to sit in a locked room screening the finale scene of "Carry on Up the Khyber", looped, for about a week. (For those of you not familiar with that film, after a plot of disastrous relations with an Indian insurgent group, the local British establishment proceed to have formal dinner whilst shells progressively demolish their dining room, cracking jokes and nonchalantly ignoring the mayhem. One of the best "Carry on Films", IMO). In the early 1990s i lived in a apartment block favored by MPs in Westminster. We had a fair few bomb scares, and one actual explosion that nearly ripped my windows, from half a block away. What did everyone do? Er, go down the pub for a pint. Was an interesting drinking crowd! No panic, fast police response, all very orderly (no-one hurt or hurt badly as i recall, which was probably very lucky). Hate to think what would have happened with today's so called security attitudes, there would surely have been a lot more fuss for no greater benefit. Every time i read the quivering lips of our Home Office guys, something in me is screaming "You are taking away my fundamental Britishness! Get a grip Man!"
  • 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)!!

  • by ray-auch (454705) on Friday August 11, 2006 @05:13AM (#15887725)
    Your laptops and cameras, cellphones, pdas, all have to be in checked bags now for UK flights or if you are transiting UK. There is talk of these restrictions becoming permanent.

    That's really going to be the big problem for business travellers in particular. All the discussion on toothpaste is bizarre - replacing a tube of toothpaste is trival compared to replacing your laptop cellphone and car keys. [when they lose them, not if].
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday August 11, 2006 @05:38AM (#15887774)
    We obviously have a hub & spoke system at the moment, the economic change to switched requires the hub and spoke system to become more expensive or switched transport to become less expensive. Hub & spoke is very expensive as it is, airports are expensive and large jets are also expensive. For that matter, trains are expensive, stations are expensive and rail lines are also very expensive. The additional security concerns will add to those costs.

    Switched transport though has to become cheaper. At the moment it's limited primarily by the cost of the vehicle and cost of pilot/driver. The solution is to get rid of the pilot/driver entirely and to mass produce the vehicle to reduce the per unit cost. Frankly this means something like a fully automated Moller aircar [moller.com] or CarterCopter [cartercopters.com] for air transport and Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) [personalrapidtransit.com] for ground based transport.

     
  • Re:Counterfactual (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rsidd (6328) on Friday August 11, 2006 @05:39AM (#15887779)
    NY to Chicago is an 18-hour train trip.

    With a train like the TGV, you could do that in 5 hours. (It's about 1300 km. Currently, Paris-Marseille, 800 km, is done in 3 hours. Paris-Brussels takes 1 hr 15 mins and there are over 20 trains a day. Within the next few years there will be high speed links from Paris to Frankfurt and Barcelona.)

    NY to LA is something like 56 hours, IIRC.

    For those distances you'd still fly. Not many people need to do NY-LA every week.

    The US is the worst country in the world for public transport, and I'm including developing countries in that statement.

  • by init100 (915886) on Friday August 11, 2006 @05:58AM (#15887809)

    it still wouldn't be successful because of the economic requirement to put lots of passengers onto each train and stop relatively infrequently. Greyhound buses on Interstate highways are the proof.

    You can put much more passengers on a train than on either on a bus or an airplane.

  • by init100 (915886) on Friday August 11, 2006 @06:13AM (#15887842)

    Trains are defintely needed in larger cities such as LA, but they cannot come close to replacing the airline system.

    At the moment you may be right, but when airplane fuel becomes prohibitively expensive, maybe trains would be an option. And I'm not talking 60 mph diesel trains, I'm talking 200+ mph electric high-speed trains. Heck, if Transrapid (or a similar system) would get cheaper, you might even be travelling at 310 mph at a reasonable price point.

    And at 310 mph, that would be slightly more than half the speed of airplanes, possibly making up for the two hour plus security checks and inconvenient baggage restrictions of current air travel.

  • Re:Counterfactual (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rsidd (6328) on Friday August 11, 2006 @07:06AM (#15887958)
    Currently, Paris-Marseille, 800 km, is done in 3 hours

    And that's probably one of the longest high-speed rail stretches, right?

    Well no -- the high speed line will in principle take you from Brussels (and eventually from Amsterdam or Cologne) to Marseille, but I don't think there are regular trains that do this (for profitability reasons): one needs to stop and change in Paris.

    Moreover, as I said, lines are being planned from Lyon to Turin in Italy, and from Lyon to Barcelona (via Montpellier and Perpignan). The eurostar track in England is also being upgraded to a high-speed track. So in a few years, a high-speed train all the way from London to Barcelona (except for the channel tunnel itself) should be "possible"... though I expect one would still need to change in Paris.

    And even today, the TGV trainset can run on all these routes, but needs to go at a lower speed on some sections.

    The Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] article is quite informative.

  • by hoover (3292) on Friday August 11, 2006 @07:06AM (#15887959)
    "Get a grip. In the seventies and eighties there were terrorists from all over the place, Germans, Italians, Japanese, Irish, Spanish, Arabic, Amercian (from both continents), Arabic, Indian, Pakistani, Israeli as well as Palestinian. There was none of drive to instill the public with a ever pervasive sence of fear."

    There wasn't a need to back then because we were all told to be mightily afraid of... the Soviets. Once they were gone, it was only a matter of time before our praised leaders would come up with something else for us to be afraid of.

  • by SamSim (630795) on Friday August 11, 2006 @07:07AM (#15887961) Homepage Journal
    Next attack attempt: The pilot turns out to be a terrorist. Response: Non-military air flight in and around the United States is grounded completely for fifteen years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 11, 2006 @07:49AM (#15888056)
    What do those two links have to do with it?

    The first link you posted is about really bad on-time performance. Maybe you didn't read the parent post. It was suggesting an inter-city passenger rail network, because delays are inevitable as long as we are trying to mix Amtrak with freight trains. The parent post said: "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." And quoting the article you cited: "Spokesman James Barnes acknowledges that increased Union Pacific freight traffic along the route is the cause of congestion."

    The second link is a book about a cult that released noxious gas in Tokyo subway stations. Maybe you didn't read the parent post. It was suggesting an inter-city passenger rail network. It's not really like a subway (other than the fact that it runs on rails). It's not underground, the stations aren't enclosed areas, and so on. The parent post said: "Electric surface level trains are an inherently poor terrorist target."

    As for the hub-and-spoke model, it works quite well with rail. Need to go from London to Switzerland? Take the train from London to Paris. Then from Paris to Switzerland. Paris is a hub. In fact almost all train routes to/from secondary cities go through a hub in a larger city.

    As the previous post said, "fast trains neatly fill the 50 mile to 1000, mile middle range." They aren't meant to replace air travel for longer trips. An airline might have three or four major hubs throughout the country. They are working at a different scale than rail. Since this type of rail is meant to cover medium distances it would have hubs that are appropriate at that scale.

    The sparse population between LA and SF doesn't matter. High-speed trains -- unlike Amtrak -- don't stop at every city along the way. For a 400 mile trip you might have one 10-minute stop. it is O&D traffic (translation: it would be there to serve the LA-to-SF market, not to be semi-viable on that route and then try to make it up by picking up onsies-twosies from towns along the way).

    Small towns wouldn't get direct high-speed rail service. Instead, they would take a slower train to -- yes, the nearest hub, where they could catch a high-speed train. It's the same hub-and-spoke system used by airlines where small towns are served by commuter aircraft that feed larger hubs.
  • by Xyrus (755017) on Friday August 11, 2006 @08:12AM (#15888132) Journal
    "Planes are big, fragile machines; it doesn't take very much to knock one out of the sky."

    I beg to differ. Jet liners are exceedingly tough and are designed to fly under very bad conditions. Basically, as long as the wings are still attached you have one semi-functioning engine you stand a good chance of landing the plane safely.

    Don't belive the Hollywood depictions. Jets have flown and landed safely after having the whole top of the plane torn. The planes and the pilots go through very rigorous testing, and put through situations that you'd never expect (for example, a 747 can survive a barrel roll).

    The planes are tough, but not indestructable. A strong enough bomb will knock them out of the air but the bomb would have to do some decent damage to do so (more than just blow a hole in the fuselage).

    ~X~
  • Re:Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by walt-sjc (145127) on Friday August 11, 2006 @08:23AM (#15888172)
    doesn't have to wait 10-15 minutes to collect his checked bag

    The last 5 times I've flown with checked luggage, it has taked nearly a full hour to get my bags once I'm waiting in the baggage area. With carryon baggage, I've already gotten a rental car, checked into the hotel, and am sitting in the jacuzzi before I would have gotten checked luggage. Couple that with the extra 15 - 30 mins on the front end of the flight in a long line waiting for a counter agent to tag my bag.

    Couple that with the damage to luggage itself and the contents, and you understand VERY WELL why people don't check their bags unless they HAVE to.

    My personal favorite is the smaller regional jets where the carryon's are tagged plane side, and you pick them up plane side at the far end. There is still a slight risk of dammage, but since they are loaded last you don't end up with someone's monster 200lb rolling trunk on top of your soft-sided bag (why is it that 4' tall petite asian women have the largest suitcases on the planet???)

    I don't know where you fly, but it's sure not Boston, LA, SFO, Dulles, O'Hare, Atlanta, or most other major airports if you only have to wait 10-15. Even a lot of the smaller airports where your gate is no more than 100 feet from the baggage area it can take 30 mins or more. I always joke that the delay is because the handlers need time to steal all the good stuff. Unfortunately, there is truth to that joke.
  • 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.
  • by lucaq99 (898345) on Friday August 11, 2006 @09:48AM (#15888633)
    How is it unreasonable? You don't HAVE to fly. Their security as being a mandatory condition of something that you CHOOSE to do does not deminish your rights. If you don't like it, go by land or sea instead... You are taking a recent innovation (travel by air) and reguarding it as a right of yours as a citizen, it is a modern convenience and things were much harder at one time...
  • by IAmTheDave (746256) <basenamedave-sd@NOsPAm.yahoo.com> on Friday August 11, 2006 @09:58AM (#15888707) Homepage Journal
    No, that's not an important difference. The important difference is the exploitation of those actions. Terrorism is in definition the destruction of innocent life - not military. Any attack on any military is considered a military action and not terrorism.

    What we're talking about is full-scale exploitation of fear to control the masses. It wasn't even this bad during the cold war.

    You've got to love how the Brits and Americans had information about using liquids to blow up planes, but it's not until AFTER this information is made public, AFTER the arrests had been made, that liquids are suddenly banned from planes - that people have to dispose of toothpaste and lipstick before boarding a flight. This is simply a tactic to make flying a scarier experience, which keeps terrorism "real" as a threat on the forefront of people's minds. By doing so, it becomes exponentially easier to exploit that fear to remove civil liberties.

    If 10 planes DID blow up over the ocean, less people would have died that day in airplane incidents than on the roads of the United States. You take more of a risk driving one day than flying 20 or 30 times.

    But fear supresses the masses, allows for the removal of liberties, and the introduction of full-scale tracking of citizens.

    And it works. How many times on the news have I heard people say "whatever, as long as I'm safe." Fucking sheep.
  • 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 Evl (36661) on Friday August 11, 2006 @10:28AM (#15888890)
    Uh, try:

    1. Fuel prices rise.
    2. Plane and SUV use decreases dramamtically.
    3. Fuel demand decreases.
    4. Plane and SUV use increase dramatically.
    5. Goto 1
  • 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.

  • Re:Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oldave (160729) on Friday August 11, 2006 @11:20AM (#15889285)
    Sometimes I wonder how FedEx and UPS manage to get millions of packages per day correctly to their destination, yet airlines can't handle a few suitcases with their destination clearly tagged.

    It seems more likely that the airline baggage handlers just plain don't care, and the airlines don't have to pay, so they don't care that the handlers don't care.
  • Re:Counterfactual (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alienmole (15522) on Friday August 11, 2006 @11:44AM (#15889470)
    But you're still talking about small distances. "All the way from London to Barcelona" is less than the distance between Seattle and Los Angeles, and that's just on one coast of the U.S. In addition, the population density between those two cities is relatively low, other than the San Francisco and Portland areas, so the economics are questionable.

    A train across the U.S. would be three times as long as the London-Barcelona link. And this is my point: because of distances, population density differences, and the competition with air travel, for anything but quite local travel in the U.S., no-one is likely to use high-speed rail unless the air network becomes completely unworkable. The latter could happen, but it hasn't really happened yet.

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