William (aka Bill the Godfather)

William (aka Bill the Godfather)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The upside to volcanic disruptions

With apologies to those who have had travel plans wrecked, I am compelled to agree with the author. Flying is one of the most unpleasant forms of transportation I can think of.
AFTER waiting nearly a week as an Icelandic volcano spewed turbine-mangling ash into the atmosphere — thwarting flights into, out of or through Europe — the airlines are supposed to begin flying passengers again on Tuesday.

Governments, businesses and most travelers, irritated by disrupted itineraries and worried about lost productivity, are delighted to see planes back in the sky. But I, for one, wish this blessedly jet-free interlude could have continued a little longer. In the eccentric, ground-level adventures of some stranded passengers — 700-mile taxi rides through Scandinavia, for instance, perhaps a horse-drawn stagecoach over the Alps if things got really desperate — I’m reminded of the romance we trade away each time we shuffle aboard an airplane.

In the five decades or so since jets became the dominant means of long-haul travel, the world has benefited immeasurably from the speed and convenience of air travel. But as Orson Welles intoned in “The Magnificent Ambersons,” “The faster we’re carried, the less time we have to spare.” Indeed, airplanes’ accelerated pace has infected nearly every corner of our lives. Our truncated vacation days and our crammed work schedules are predicated on the assumption that everyone will fly wherever they’re going, that anyone can go great distances and back in a very short period of time.
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1 comment:

Anam Cara said...

My husband and I love "surface" travel.

We live on the east coast, our married son on the west. The cost to travel (by car: gas, hotels, food; by plane, airfare; by train - sleeping car) to see him and his family is such that we can't afford it more than once a year. And then we don't want to spend our entire vacation time in transit.

But we have found a way to compromise: we take the train one way and fly the other. By far, the train is the most fun part of the travel. Just wish it were less expensive!

I remind myself that just a few generations ago, when he went west, we would probably have never seen him again, and we rejoice each time we are able to get together again.