U.S. aviation failing? Give me a break. Our system isn't perfect, but our airports and airlines safely transport hundreds of millions of passengers to, from, and within the world's largest aviation market each year. Taking the sheer volume of throughput into account, I'd say our aviation is very successful. Even as U.S. aviation continues to grow, most folks arrive on time (or early), and there hasn't been a major incident in years.
Our airports are terrible? This broad statement is certainly not a fair assessment of all ~500 commercial service airports throughout the country. Terrible is certainly the adjective I would use for the likes of LAX
, or ORD
. However, the open air garden concept of KOA - complete with boarding via stairs - is hands down the best experience I've ever had at any airport in the world. KOA certainly beats the highly acclaimed airports I have personally visited like DXB
, and YVR
. I should think the new LGB
is similarly enjoyable, if not better (the old trailer park it replaced was terrible, though). In other cases, American airports are so big that they run the gamut from world class to terrible. Classic examples would include LAS
, where some folks enjoy the new Terminal 3 whilst others endure Terminal 1's decrepit Concourse A/B gates, or MIA
, where the new Concourse D or Concourse J feel a world apart (that is to say, first world) from the third world Concourse F or Concourse G
Our airlines find it harder and harder to compete? That must explain why many of them are performing great these days, and continuing to invest in great amenities on the ground and in the air. I guess this would also explain why DL
both appear to be doing quite well in the DXB
market, in spite of the EK
competition. Or why both carriers still serve SIN
. In fact, IIRC SQ
's failure at ORD
was attributed (at least partially) to UA
competition. Imagine that!
People will not visit the U.S. because of long processing lines?!? In my experiences, this is not a problem unique to the U.S. I have waited in agonizingly long, slow moving lines to get through immigration at LIS
, and IST
. One time at YVR
I was grilled by the officers (complete with a thorough bag search in the back room, repeatedly asked if I was carrying drugs, etc.) for about an hour. Should Canada, China, Portugal, and Turkey be avoided by these "overseas business travelers" too? Surely most seasoned international travelers know that, depending on a multitude of factors, sometimes they will sail through immigration, and other times the wait will be an hour or more. If on your first ever trip to America you arrive at JFK
right after a wave of Asian or European arrivals, are you going to assume that American immigration lines are always like that, and never come back again? Or would you think it through and look at alternatives, i.e. flying into BWI
next time around? I would hope most people would rationalize the situation and learn from it, but that's just me.
I agree that FRA
may be a crossroads, but setting standards? I have never been, but from what I have seen and read online it does not seem to be any better than the average American major international hub airport. MUC
, on the other hand, looks fantastic. Ditto for ZRH
. Now ICN
I have visited, and I wasn't all that impressed. We arrived early in the morning, and the only food options I could find were local Korean restaurants (no, I don't want noodle soup for breakfast) or greasy American chains. Most American airports now have everything from yogurt parfait to fresh bagels to warm omelets and paninis available, in addition to or in some cases instead of the standard fast food fare. The only shops at ICN
were your standard duty free shops - I actually like the local-themed stores at American airports, no matter how cheesy they may be, as you can buy clothes or other objects to say you've been there. No such like finding something like that at ICN
either. Just a lot of long walks, rows of seats, and open space. American airports tend to me more compact and feel more crowded, but it's easier to get around and IMO the food options and shops at most are actually much better than the likes of ICN
When it comes to the example of Europeans/Australians all connecting via the Middle East or Asia instead of California, I can't help but laugh. There are a lot of people that do it, but many take the opportunity to spend a few days exploring San Francisco and/or L.A., and so they book two different tickets rather than one connecting itinerary. Fewer people have the urge to explore Doha or even Singapore, and so they just fly right on through on one single connecting itinerary. Then he goes on to talk about transiting at JFK
. Again, a lot of people use a JFK
connection as an opportunity to visit New York, and so they'll want to leave the airport and go into the city. Like LAX
sucks for the relatively rare connections between different airlines, but it's great for connections on the same airline, and quite convenient for O&D - which is what many of the transit pax actually are since they end up leaving the airport to explore the Big Apple. It's not like JFK
are the only places where it sucks to connect. I hear horror stories about CDG
, or even just going between terminals at SYD
. Transit at SVO
sounds especially bad.
Finally, the taxes. Yes, the users of the aviation system get taxed to pay for the services they use - TSA
agents, customs officers, etc. This is no different than the government taxing gasoline to help pay for roads. Just as people who don't drive shouldn't have to subsidize those that do, people who don't fly shouldn't have to shoulder the burden of airport security. Makes sense to me. At least the taxes/fees for American airports are included in the ticket. Some airports require you to pay the airport improvement fee out of pocket at the airport.
Sorry to rant, but I think this article is terrible! I enjoy flying and as an American that has been fortunate to travel to several other parts of the world, I think this guy is way, way off base here.