A colleague of mine and I were talking last week about my tipping point hypothesis concerning the latest (almost) terrorism incident and the resulting restrictions on air travel. He made a good point. The issue, he argued, was partly the restrictions on things like laptops and non-bodily fluids, but there was more to it than that.
The deeper issue? To his way of thinking the thing that will make this a real tipping point is that business travel has become stochastic. You enter an airport, check in, and throw yourself into the airline travel machine — and then you get spit out at some unpredictable point in the future. You don’t know whether your flight will take off, let alone when it will land. That total unpredictability represents the real tipping point for business travel.
Case in point, consider the news from Heathrow airport in London today:
Heathrow Airport said a third of outgoing flights were canceled on Sunday as the world’s busiest international airport struggled with new security measures introduced after a terrorist plot to bomb up to 10 U.S.-bound passenger jets was foiled last week. [Emphasis mine]
We’re three days after the almost incidents and resulting changes in screening procedures, and Heathrow still had to cancel a third of its flights. Is there a better example of air travel unpredictability than that?