I got excited when I saw The Times had a double page story on the hidden cost of cheap air travel. ‘At last!’ I rejoiced, ‘The world has seen sense. A £30 flight to Mallorca doesn’t justify the damage to the Earth. Train travel will be embraced, prices reduced so it’s accessible to all, and the world will be saved!’.
As you may have already intuited, this wasn’t QUITE the angle this particular Times journalist was taking. No, the hidden costs include such outrageous-ness as extra fees if you make a mistake with your booking etc. etc. etc. (To be honest, I didn’t read the whole thing – hence vagueness.)
A few pages later I read an editorial ruminating that bargain flights have taken the luxury out of travel. In 2009, a vacation abroad starts with queues, the RyanAir experience and wearing three coats so your hand luggage looks smaller. A call to old times, the writer begged!
I personally prefer trains to planes (though getting to London from Oz sort of required a plane). It’s easier; there’s more space (a necessity rather than a luxury when you’re nearly 6ft); train stations are fun; you get to see the countryside; and I can pretend I’m Julie Delpy in Before Sunrise. You don’t have to pretend to listen to the safety message; and you don’t have to be scared by the implications of the safety message. The environmental benefit is an added extra.
I like what The Times is saying (since it agrees with me!). Perhaps we’ll put a bit more thought into our holidays. Jetting off for just a weekend will be a bit too much hassle. We will learn to slow down and take a train or boat and the journey there will be part of the adventure.
Bit like the financial crisis showed us that striving for continuous growth not only has fundamental economic weaknesses, but isn’t too great for the planet either.