If you're not in a cave somewhere, you're probably already fully aware that today is election day in the U.S., and we encourage all of you registered voters to go out and perform your civic duty. As part of our election coverage, we're continuing the conversation we started yesterday with our readers, and presenting the rest of contributing editor Christoper Elliott's "Dear Mr. President..." essay from our November/December issue of Traveler. In the essay, Elliott outlined a series of travel-related items that are likely to be on the new president's agenda, and we're taking this opportunity to let our readers discuss how they'd like to see them sorted out.
The post-9/11 recovery made by the domestic airline industry was short-lived. High energy prices have pushed a poorly managed industry to the brink of yet another wave of bankruptcies. Passengers now feel the IRS offers better customer service; routes are being slashed; additional fees are now being tacked on for everything from bags to pillows. Some people are talking re-regulation. Should the airlines be held accountable for their customer service shortcomings with the passing of a passengers' bill of rights? Or should the next President focus on the health of the airline industry, ensuring that government policies allow air carriers an unobstructed path to profitability? And what about the nation's antiquated air-traffic control system? Should making the necessary upgrades be a top priority?
Since the 2004 election, the government has
imposed a series of new requirements for air travelers, including a ban
on liquids and gels, plus new passport and ID rules - causing many
passengers to opt to stay home. The travel industry is pushing the
government to reduce the hassle factor at borders and checkpoints, and
the Travel Industry Association of America has launched an ad campaign
to persuade candidates to address these problems. Some changes are on
the horizon, including more efficient airport screening and the
loosening of visa requirements for some visitors. What is the
appropriate balance between security and unimpeded travel? Should
visitors to the United States be fingerprinted and eye-scanned? Do
liquid-and-gel bans at airports work, or are they nothing more than
"window-dressing," meant to make passengers feel safer? Do "no-fly" and
watch lists protect travelers-or needlessly detain thousands of