Flying Yourself Is Getting Even Smarter

Most pilots who fly their aircraft for personal or business transportation know that their way beats the airlines on most counts. A recent story on Yahoo News indicates that truism is gaining further credibility. With business travel down, the trend toward service cuts by the major airlines is expected to continue. New capacity cuts are in the offing at American and United, the nation's second and third largest carriers, respectively. Though there has been some indication that business travel is showing signs of rebounding, airline officials say service cuts could make it even worse for airline passengers. With airline capacity measured in "seat miles" (the number of seats times the number of miles flown by the carrier, fleetwide), estimates are that U.S. airlines could be forced to reduce capacity to as little as 12.5 billion seat miles during the fourth quarter of this year. That compares to Q4 of 2001 - when all air travel was grounded for much of the time period due to the terrorist attacks - when airlines were only able to bring 12.1 billion seat miles to the travel market. As flights are cut back, the net door-to-door speed of airline travel continues to deteriorate. And flying yourself is looking better and better.