Driving Versus Flying
Glenn Reynolds and John Hinderaker headed from their homes near Knoxville, Tennessee and Apple Valley, Minnesota, respectively, yesterday for an event in D.C. Reynolds went by plane, Hinderaker by car. The latter got there first leaving the former to observe, “I’m beginning to think that air travel is overrated.”
As a wise man once observed, Indeed.
Pre-9/11 overreaction, my rule of thumb was that, if airfare were reasonably cheap, I’d fly if the trip by car was more than five hours. Now, I’ve upped it to seven. Frankly, I’m not sure that’s enough.
Aside from the fact that, as Hinderaker notes, “In a car, you can always make some progress toward your destination,” it’s simply less aggravating. Aside from Thanksgiving weekend-type traffic jams, driving is relatively pleasant given all the creature comforts one can bring along. The ability to stop for food or whatever pretty much whenver it strikes one’s fancy is nice as well.
Morever, even aside from security waits and the seemingly more frequent mechanical, weather, and idiocy delays (i.e., it’s not storming at your location, destination, or in between but is where your plane is coming from) flying is just awful unless one can spring for First Class. Being crammed into tiny seats next to some fat guy; having waitresses coming down the aisle ramming you with their carts so they might dispense three onces of soft drink; screaming kids; incessant announcements about how to put on a seatbelt, whether the seatbelt light is on or off (making me wonder why there are lights at all), what mountain range one is crossing, what time it is at your destination, the 37 gates where any given passenger might be transferring, and so on and so forth would probably raise the ire of John McCain and Lindsey Graham if done to an al Qaeda detainee.
Flying only makes sense if one is going a long way for a short time or if driving is not feasible. If you’re flying from Boston to L.A. for a meeting or event and need to be back in a day or two, then enduring commercial flight is your only real option. My wife and I are flying to Nashville to see some friends and watch a football game this weekend. We’ll have to fly, since work ends late Friday and starts early Monday. The five hour Knoxville to D.C. drive, on the other hand, is infinitely preferable to flying since, at best, it’s about break even timewise.