Matt Towery

Last summer, our InsiderAdvantage national survey asked Americans if they intended to travel more or less than they did the prior summer. The answer was more, but not by a significantly wide margin.

 While airport travel in particular has rebounded since 9/11, consider the misery that awaits the business traveler, upon whose back the economic might of air travel rests.

 Here's a first-hand account of a flight I took this past Monday morning out of Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, arguably the world's busiest.

 My flight, scheduled to depart at 8:50 a.m. on Delta Air Lines, was delayed even before I reached the airport. I left my home hours ahead of time, prepared for the now world famous "Monday morning crunch" at Hartsfield. After checking in using the airline's new kiosk machines (which, I must admit, worked well and have clearly cut down on waits and lines to talk to ticket agents), I proceeded to the security check lines.

 What I witnessed was nothing less than staggering.

 There were lines in virtually every direction, stretched out past ticket counters, through hallways and snaking around shopping atriums, looping, dividing, encircling . . . The chaos required passengers to funnel their way through the makeshift lines with little or no directions.

 Meanwhile, the airline I was flying, the struggling Delta, obviously lacked the needed personnel to direct or handle its passengers who, finally, after hours spent waiting in line, boarded the delayed aircraft. Once on board the plane, there was no sign of a flight attendant. Passengers, seemingly all carrying huge pieces of baggage, battled for precious storage space. Even as I began to pen this column, I felt the heavy "thud" of a dropped piece of luggage on my head.

 Fortunately for me, I can be "hardheaded."

 After all of the important issues brought up in the recent presidential battle, why focus on the issue of a bad day at the airport?

 Because our nation's economy depends on the strength of air travel and our system of air transportation, which must be present to support the serious work of business travelers. Unfortunately, it is the business traveler who must pay the highest price and most frequently endure this virtual "hell" in the skies.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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