Kick the Great Unwashed Off the Planes!

Travel used to be great.  It was regulated and high-priced, so most people didn’t travel that much.  With regulated prices, airlines competed based on service.  If you were traveling on business, at someone else’s expense, flying was great.

Then came deregulation and the the Great Unwashed Masses showed up at the airports.  They had the temerity to think that they were entitled to fly too.  Airplanes got crowded and services deteriorated.  Prices came down, but who cares if someone else is paying the freight!?

It’s time to turn back the clock.  Forget my personal comfort.  It’s for the public interest.  Indeed, the interest of Mother Earth.  You see, travel is killing the planet!  Reports the New York Times:

The boom in low-cost air travel has turned this corner of southern Spain into a thriving tourist destination, and retired plumbers and schoolteachers into Europe‘s new jet set.

But it has done more than democratize air travel and offer new vistas to working-class people. It has also opened a new dimension to the global warming crisis.

A typical British beach weekend, for instance, might begin here, with a landing at San Javier airport in Murcia. This former military airfield, where cockney English is commonly heard and huge sculptures of golf balls adorn the halls, now receives flights daily from Ryanair, easyJet and Spanair from cities like Blackpool, Bournemouth, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool and Shannon, to name a few — as well as more than half a dozen flights from London.

Coming from Germany? Air Berlin flies here from Berlin, Bremen, Cologne, Dortmund, Dresden, Düsseldorf (that’s only to the D’s).

Even with the rise in fuel prices, the low-cost airlines in this extremely competitive market still offer flights for less than the cost of a train ticket in Britain or Germany.

At a time when airlines are already the fastest growing source of climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions — increasing nearly 5 percent a year according to a report last week from the European Environment Agency — the new low-cost industry is pumping a huge amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

It is also laying down an infrastructure that guarantees high emissions for years. Low-cost flights have spawned dozens of new pastel-colored, low-cost condominium developments catering to foreigners, which now line Murcia’s scraggly roads.

“Low cost carriers are growing at 9 percent a year, and from an environmental point of view that is a problem,” said Christian Brand, a researcher at Oxford University who specializes in the mathematical modeling of transportation emissions. “Their cheap prices encourage more travel.”

So let’s raise prices and kick all of the silly tourists and people who want to do unimportant things, like visit their families and friends, off the planes.  Airline travel should be left to us Important People–you know, those of us traveling to places like Bali to discuss cutting CO2 emissions!  Future generations will thank us–and maybe I’ll again get that open seat next to me.  Whaddya’ think?