In reality, airlines will probably have a tough year or two, airports will adopt some new health measures, and things will mostly continue as they were before.
If the outcome is there needs to be six-foot distancing aboard planes, that's not going to mean a 150-seat plane takes 100 passengers, it's going to mean a 150 seat plane takes 20 passengers. That would mean everyone paying first-class fares.
And if some countries have different infection rates, different rates of testing and tracing, and some less trustworthy reporting of those numbers? If every international flight is subject to a mandatory 2 week quarantine in a hotel, say goodbye to 98% of international business travel and vacations.
On the other hand, if there's 'herd immunity' or a vaccine, things could be largely back to normal. I certainly know a lot of people who've been saving up money and vacation days during the lockdown.
And very soon after that, everybody was flying again (although, after that, they got groped by security, and had to buy expensive airport drinks)
But the mandatory 'bottle steriliziation fee', will be 5eur more.
Our primary use case is moving kids and groceries, all of which is less than 30 miles round trip. On the highway it still gets ~10mpg better than the gas version.
I would buy a PHEV just so that it wouldn't switch from regenerative to engine braking mode so soon.
Otherwise, you’re taking a road trip sized vehicle to work every day, or a commute sized vehicle on a road trip.
That said, I don't expect there will be a vaccine by then and of course there's no guarantee how effective a vaccine will be. Not all vaccines are especially effective.
I'll be flying as soon as work allows it. Once the consultants start flying you'll see big upticks in flights as workers demonstrate it can be done safely. I'm not saying instantly back to 100% but I expect decent recovery later in the summer.
In the winter my opinion is air travel will drop as flu season complicates things and covid19 surges again. Then, once again, when flu season subsides, it will pick up again and that's when I believe we'll see a much larger air travel recovery.
You’ll just have to prove somehow that you’re not infected, by a certificate of vaccination, or a 15-minute fully automatic PCR test, or at worst case by staying days to weeks in quarantine, but there’s no problem in the mode of transportation itself.
I suspect most airlines are going to go through bankruptcy, but those which emerge may get back to flying normally next summer, it depends how the disease progresses this year and what treatments are devised.
Wearing my most cynical hat, I think the UK is only a few months away from the government attempting to mandate that enabling the official government contact-tracing app on your phone, and keeping it active for the duration of your trip, will be a requirement to leave the UK through an airport. I also think they'll fail in court, but they're going to try.
Isn't this also the "business model" of Google, Facebook and hundreds of thousands of other "tech companies" and websites that aspire to generate revenue by catering to advertisers.
Why are we obsessing over airplane security so much, but completely ignoring ground transportation?
Never mind Metro/Subway/Underground, which we can claim not every city has (I'd still imagine total number of subway passengers daily outweighs airplane passengers or is at least comparable) - what about buses? Trains? Street cars and trams?
Any airplane I've ever flown had better filtering and circulation, more spacing and better hygiene, than any bus I've ever ridden in. Every airport terminal was more spacious than every indoors bus or train terminal. Across countries and continents this ratio has held true.
So why this obsession with airplanes as the vulnerable part of the equation? Is it all just... human inability to calculate risks and our focus on the "flashy"?
I've done 50-75 flights a year over last 10 years; none last 2 months obviously, and I don't foresee any soon; but I'm DEFINITELY not going to take our friendly neighbourhood Toronto subway if I can help it, as much as it's the key to fighting traffic and pollution.
This should be throwing our entire transportation industry into disarray and restart fundamental discussions about urban planning and urban landscaping of the future... and yet I only ever see the airline industry mentioned.
I think this ^
Plus, on the ground we think we have control... someone sick comes on the bus, we think we can 'escape' from the bus on that (or next) station. Same with general safety.... if you drive a car, you think you're invincible, and that your superpower reflexes and supersenses will predict anything happening around you, and you'll be able to avoid any accident... but on a plane, engines stop working, and there's literally nothing you can do, sometimes for many minutes until you (probably) crash and die.
Of course, statistics show different safety numbers, but for most people, statistics is about "them" and not "us".
Whereas busses and metro systems and roads are often city-owned, and them being given taxpayer cash is just business as usual.
finally, like you said, the airline industry is always living on the edge and in the news.
> Any airplane I've ever flown had better filtering and circulation, more spacing and better hygiene, than any bus I've ever ridden in.
And most modern trains I've ridden beat a plane on all of those metrics.
> Every airport terminal was more spacious than every indoors bus or train terminal.
Airport terminals have to accommodate planes, which are enormous, inconveniently shaped, move slowly between the runway and the terminal and spend at least ~1h exchanging passengers and cargo. This means there's a large number of very large vehicles sitting around that need space and infrastructure, which means the airport terminals have to be huge.
Since they're required to be huge and large amounts of real estate are needed, airports are also usually located far from the center of the city they serve.
And finally, people are forced to spend a lot of time in an airport, so there's a lot of opportunity to make a lot of money from passengers, which means incentive to spend a lot making the terminal a nice place to be.
Trains and buses are much easier to accommodate and typically sit at their station for minutes at a time, which means the station can be much more compact. The stations are usually located throughout the cities they serve, which means real estate is expensive and should be kept to a minimum. Passengers usually pass through a train station in a matter of minutes and don't have a need to loiter and be captive to the shops there, so there's not as much in the way of opportunity for profit.
> So why this obsession with airplanes as the vulnerable part of the equation? Is it all just... human inability to calculate risks and our focus on the "flashy"?
Because airlines can go bankrupt relatively easily. It's exciting when a big, well-known company dies.
> This should be throwing our entire transportation industry into disarray and restart fundamental discussions about urban planning and urban landscaping of the future... and yet I only ever see the airline industry mentioned.
I think because there's not a whole lot that can be done there. Cities are already there, they've already been planned. You can't easily take a city built around roads and rebuild it around trains, trams or a subway, especially in America, which is what you'll see most of on HN.
The most I've seen is a city that already has trams and trains replace roads to expand their already mature train or tram network.
Also, arguably we over fit tragic experiences. Because we lived through 911, we made sure the exact same thing would be hard to repeat... We didn't make it much harder for that type of thing to happen
Given how likely the NYC subway is responsible for the disproportionate illness and death why hasn't it been shutdown?
In 2003, James Burke revisited his 1978 series "Connections" in a 1-hour interview session, "ReConnections". Asked to describe how he would continue the original series' ending inventions forward, for the jet airplane his answer was immediate: pandemics. Beginning about 47m30s here:
Critical to realise: SARS-COV-2 isn't the only, and won't be the last new, virus (or other infectious agent) out there.
But plane travel carries infected people long distances. There's going to be a bunch of countries insisting on 2 weeks quarantine for any new arrivals.
Is that really a bad thing? My experience on long haul flights is that most people sleep. Some people even voluntarily take drugs so they fall asleep sooner/easier.
In non-car-centric cities there simply isn’t any other realistic way to get to work.
However, travel obviously takes you to a new place, where the every day risks might be much greater or at least less well known than the ones you have to accept by virtue of just staying alive where you live.
Further, you also have the risk of being stranded due to local outbreaks closing borders at some point during your trip, making the duration of the trip itself uncertain. Not many people take lightly the risk of not knowing when they can get home from their vacation.
>On most aircraft, air is also circulated through hospital-grade HEPA filters, which remove 99.97 percent of bacteria, as well as the airborne particles that viruses use for transport (many regional jets lack these filters). Additionally, cabins are divided into separate ventilation sections about every seven rows of seats, which means that you share air only with those in your immediate environment and not with the guy who’s coughing up a lung ten rows back.
Also, I have flown maybe 50 times in my life, but only been on a packed subway maybe once? Not the same for most people.
Can you explain your situation? Naively that sounds like an incredible feat!
You ask them about it and they say that the pandemic is an old person's problem. "if I get corona" guy has lots of friends it seems.
These are optimistic bookings to take advantage of sales. Booking a cruise doesn't mean they're going on a cruise on that date.
Travel companies have gone all-in on deals and flexible rescheduling to keep money coming in the door. They offer deals to book now with the explanation that you can rebook at a later date. The catch is that you have to book now, and August is among the first dates that they allow you to book.
In fact, the article you linked to buries that point in the very last line:
> Of course, the fact that you can also book a Carnival Cruise for as low as $28 a night might have something to do with the high number of August bookings, too.
Looking at the problems cruise passengers have had over the last few months I think you would have to be nuts to book something like that right now.
In fact I wonder if it's even true. I could imagine Carnival putting out news like this in order to encourage people to book. Look, everybody else is doing it so it must be OK. Hurry before we sell out.
You ask them about it and they say that the pandemic is old people's problem.
It's not if you can't get off the ship because no port will allow you to disembark.
Aside from everything else, this is insane. I’d never ever go on a cruise. Some people were held on cruise ships for a month or more weren’t they?
Depends on when you start counting, but yes.
Technically, if we could isolate/protect the old/risky people, this would be great for herd immunity. The "if i get corona" guy would probably just have flu-like symptoms, and contribute further to herd immunity by infecting other people, same age as him at same parties as he's going.
People are idiots.
I mean I know this, and yet the stupidity and callousness shocks me. "Old person's disease" where they are the ones killing them.
Ever since 9/11, there was a steady decline in comfort of regular passengers. Now airlines actually have to court those few remaining passengers. I fully expect to see of the room to come back ( even if it is with a fee ).
While what’s going on is terrible, personally I’m much happier that I don’t need to get on a flight every couple weeks. We’re finally realizing that being in the same room for certain meetings offers little value when compared to the cost of personal and environmental health incurred by a flight.
Remember 3 months ago when everyone was worried about global warming? We really need to take this as a forced opportunity to actually do something about it. We should not return to “normal” because normal was disastrous for the environment.
If planes are going to be empty anyway, and the ticket prices have to go up anyway, the airlines may as well differentiate themselves with better customer service.
Sheesh. I'm a lefty too but not everything has to be class warfare.
Is that really a good thing? The market has spoken: people clearly prefer money in their pockets than a few inches of extra space for a few hours.
So to answer your question. I don't know. Time will tell.
But you are, overall, wrong. The goal is, and always has been, milking. Extracting maximum of milk with a minimum of moo. The current breed of travellers are docile and compliant ( I honestly don't know my parents would have been able to pull some of things they did today ).
Consumers are idiots. I sometimes wonder if they even saw how things could be.
Absolutely. Over the past few decades budget airlines have made it obvious that there's a certain (fairly large) class of passengers who will endure significant inconvenience and discomfort is it saves them a couple of dollars.
The traditional airlines certainly have the option to say "Nah, we're not going there." But, for example, business class-only airlines and routes generally haven't worked out for airlines.
There were no lines at security. Three of the 4 airplanes I was on were nearly empty, there was a minimum of crowding around the boarding area, and due to middle seats being blocked there was plenty of overhead bin space on the one flight I had that wasn't empty. All in all, it was fantastic.
without these things airlines would go out of business even more often than they already do
Much like commercial office space, companies have just paid all of the fixed costs for remote work, their employees have adapted their home offices.
Before, you were paying a global consulting firm to fly to your office to have an occasional meeting with your employees up to 3 days a week; now you get 5 days a week, no flight or hotel expenses, and 60+% of your employees are happier and more productive.
I don't think demand will take such a huge hit. It just depends on whether the airline industry can ramp up supply again quickly or if it will take a long time.
But I could just be in a bubble of people who still have jobs and I suppose that might all change as the true economic effects settle in
If the airlines insist on running full planes, then things are going to suck, and its going to take a long time for them to recover. Nobody is going to want to be smashed up against a stranger for seconds, much less hours on end. And if people fear this, no amount of procedures are going to change there minds.
If the airlines decide to continue blocking off the middle seat and raise prices to compensate, then this could wind up making flying much more pleasant.
I don’t see rail as a particularly viable replacement for air in the US. Intercity Europe for 200-300 miles? Sure; it’s great. 2000 miles across the US? No thanks.
1. LA to NYC (2800 miles)
2. SF to LA (350 miles)
3. NYC to Chicago (800 miles)
4. LA to Chicago (2000 miles)
5. Atlanta to Orlando (440 miles)
6. LA to Las Vegas (270 miles)
7. LA to Seattle (1100 miles)
8. Denver to LA (1000 miles)
9. Atlanta to NYC (850 miles)
10. Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale (640 miles)
Many of those flights would benefit from a high speed rail connection. Modern high speed trains can travel at around half the speed of passenger planes, and save around 2~ hours traveling to/from the airport, checking in, security checks and boarding. That means the break even point in terms of time is around 800~1000 miles. Anything below that and a modern high speed trains are faster than airplanes.
That means that high speed trains are a competitive (and for many, faster) alternative to 8 of the 10 most popular flight routes in the US. On those lines alone, they can replace ~200K flights per year in the US. They are also generally much more comfortable, because space and weight is much cheaper on trains than it is on airplanes.
Another very important consideration here is that we know how to make sustainable train travel; we have no idea how to make sustainable passenger air travel.
I wouldn't be surprised if more pax buy tickets from NYC to the Miami area (FLL above) than originate in the Atlanta area and fly to Miami area. If that's true, they're not likely to be happy with high-speed rail replacing their NYC3-ATL-FLL travel.
I agree with you on the sustainability point, but it's not at all clear to me that rail is the answer.
For your example, NYC to Miami, the distance is only around 1200 miles in total. Once you add in the extra time taken to travel by airplane and extra hours to make the transfer, the total time taken for the trip easily reaches 7 hours. And those are not a very comfortable 7 hours, with many stops, a lot of waiting in lines, etc.
A high speed train could make that same trip in 6 hours, and it would be 6 hours you can spend working in relative comfort. I know which option I would heavily prefer.
I think the answer is "not in the next 50 years".
Building a rail network of that size is also not unprecedented. China is the same size as the US, and is a country with much fewer financial resources. They started construction on their high-speed rail network in 2006, and now that network covers almost half their country.
Another interesting thing I found, apparently they are now prototyping trains that run at 400 mph , which is 75% of the speed of a passenger airplane. I wager we will see trains that are as fast as airplanes long before we see functional sustainable airplanes.
It's not that hard nor expensive to put 400 miles of new rail across Nebraska. It's quite a bit harder and much, much more expensive to buy all the land needed to put 400 miles of new rail between DC and NYC.
And, yes, if you go back a few decades, planes were generally less crowded, there was less security, etc. Though, in some respects, travel is actually more comfortable today if you spend the money.
They can make everyone wear full-on gas masks the entire trip. Still working on how to deal with bathrooms.
At the very least, airlines can change those shitty change/refund policies that keep people from delaying their trip when they get sick.
This is like a 9/11 every other day, but it's over and we should all get back to work to keep the economy going - what?
Some people really want to blame China, but it's not as easy to invade a global superpower with a permanent seat on the UN security council, nuclear weapons and super intricate ties to the world's economy as it is to invade a few underdeveloped countries in the middle east with barely any air force.
They are expressing amazement at those saying "it's all fine - lets go back to normal". The "9/11 everyday" is referring to the daily death toll (it's slightly lower now, but the point is well made).
When will we just start telling people "deal with it" ?
Will your business insurance cover that?
What I am trying to say is that enclosed public spaces are going to be very risky for a long time - airline cabins, High rise elevators etc.
And someone is going to have to offset that risk - someone will need to pay for insurance such that if I catch Covid on your airplane and I sue the airline, they are covered.
Similarly the firm that employs me will need insurance to protect itself for 'forcing' me into an elevator in order to work.
These insurers will set the baseline - maximum occupancy, levels of pre-boarding tests etc. Whatever it is what will drive the occupancy rates will be determined by insurance premiums.
In airline terms that's almost certain to drive up ticket prices. It is also likely to put nitro into the tanks of NetJets etc - if you can afford first class you won't ever dream of getting on a Jumbo jet again.
SO I agree with the thrust of the article. What does strike me is that if you work somewhere that requires an elevator to get to it, you almost certainly can work from home.
It would require that around 70% of people had been infected already. Using the USA as example: 70% of 328 million would be 230 million people. At a rate of 20000 new infections a day, as it currently is, it would take approximately 11000 days to reach that. That's 32 years. Let us assume ten times this rate was possible and this would still mean over three years. We do not even know yet if people will stay immune for an extended period of time at all after having gone through the illness.
All this still ignores that even in a country like Germany that dealt pretty well with the situation so far, the death rate is at approximately 4%. 4% of 230 million people means 9.2 million would die.
This also ignored any lasting damages to lungs, heart, nervous system and kidneys as they have been reported.
There will be no herd immunity as long as the disease progresses as it currently does.
I don’t understand the rest of your post. Why does the fact that herd immunity will cause deaths and other health effects mean that it’s not going to happen?
(Edit: also, I don’t think it’s relevant, but FWIW that 4% number is CFR, not IFR. The best estimates of the true death rate are under 1%.)