Taking care in the air

I called a taxi to take me to the airport. I don’t use my cell phone much so the forty-some calls I make each month average out to about a dollar a call. So that 30-second call cost me about three cents a minute.

The six-and-a-half mile, 20-minute taxi ride to the airport is $22.00. Round trip, $44.00. That’s $3.38 per mile, $1.10 per minute.

Shopping on-line for a 6,000-mile round-trip ticket from Rochester, NY, to Seattle, I found one for $380. That works out to six cents a mile. The six-hour flights are about five cents per minute.

Three-quarters-of-a-billion people fly during the course of a year in America. Statistically speaking, the airlines have zero accidents. We have come to take for granted the airlines’ reliability, cost, and safety so much so that when they misfunction it literally becomes headline news. Critics of the airlines take on a vehement consumer-advocacy-like stance: Headlines! These planes were late! These flights were cancelled! We demand a government investigation!

We pay the phone company arguably more than they are worth. If we don’t, they will shut us off. We pay the taxis. They will call the police if we don’t. We pay dearly for gas at the pump. Without a peep. But the airlines, whose primary business activity is burning fuel and keeping us safe? They better not raise prices or fall behind schedule.

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