Wednesday 19 Sep 2018 | 13:54 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 19 Sep 2018 | 13:54 | SYDNEY

Air travel and its discontents


Sam Roggeveen


9 October 2008 16:00

I can occasionally indulge my love of aviation on this blog because aviation is such an indispensible factor in modern commerce, politics and military affairs. For that reason, I want to take issue with one of the most common complaints made about modern commercial aviation, an example of which I found in this New Statesman book review (h/t Arts & Letters Daily):

One of the saddest stories of the 20th century is the fate of air travel. In 1900 it was a dream, feverishly speculated upon, subject to all manner of Jules Verne imaginings; by 1999 it was a chore, a tedious, uncomfortable ritual undertaken in order to get from A to B.

The reason modern air travel is so 'tedious' an 'uncomfortable' for some is that it has become attainable and affordable for so many. Flying may be a 'chore' and airports may be 'sinister' (as the reviewer later says), but modern aviation has opened opportunities for millions of people, even if they never fly themselves. Begrudging that progress because it has made air travel uncomfortable seems disproportionate and a little snobbish, which is an odd stance for a left-wing magazine like New Statesman to take.