Flying has always had a certain romance to it. The trouble is, as soon as airlines figured out what they had, and demand for their product increased, the price of airfare went higher than a new Boeing Dreamliner. Sure, deregulation gave consumers some options when it came to choosing flights that fit their budget, but almost as soon as that happened, airlines began doing everything they could to cram as many passengers onto planes as possible- getting rid of leg room, minimizing seat size, and adding as many rows onto planes as they could to try to offset that loss of revenue by sheer volume of tickets sold on each flight. Now really, you canâ€™t blame them. They have shareholders to answer to, regulations to follow, and employees to pay.
That doesnâ€™t mean the industry is going to be around forever, though. In fact, there may come a day in the not-too distant future when riding on an airplane will become as quaint as riding a horse and buggy are today.
Some of the technology under development in the automotive world today is what will ultimately end large-scale air travel- simply because itâ€™s more cost effective in the long run. Imagine for a moment getting into your car in New York at 8pm, and by the same time the next day, being in California. Impossible, you ask? Fifty years ago, cars rarely exceeded 65-70 miles per hour safely. Todayâ€™s tire technology allows many cars to travel 85+ miles per hour (albeit illegally) with a margin of safety. Future tire technology could see cars that safely and easily exceed 120 miles per hour, and when you combine that high-speed travel with the rapidly evolving technology that is autonomous driving, what you are left with is a hyper-efficient vehicle that could get on the highway, let you sleep, watch movies, or play games with your family in a mode far more comfortable than an airliner could possibly manage, even with more legroom.
Much of the argument in favor of air travel as opposed to highway travel is the safety factor. Thereâ€™s no disputing the fact that airlines today are far, far less likely to have an accident than you are in your car, but looking into the future, this is almost guaranteed to change, as the next two to four generations of young people will begin to see driving and flying very differently than we do today. If the future lack of air travel as a regular means of transportation comes to pass, it bodes well for bringing back the idea of the family car trip, and at the end of the day, actually making it once again the best, most affordable way to travel.