Congratulations, sir. Surely you’ve got plenty on your plate. But I’d like to say something on behalf of travelers. Though we may not have a huge army of lobbyists on K Street, we could still use a little love during your upcoming term.
We are the underappreciated engine that drives a $1.9 trillion business in the United States, which includes (ahem) $124 billion a year in tax revenue. What do American travelers—the ones who took nearly two billion trips in 2011—want from you? The list includes commonsense security, mass transit projects, fewer paperwork hassles for international trips, and consumer protections.
Frankly, the past decade has been so-so for us. Yes, the Department of Transportation made progress on passenger rights, requiring airlines to provide speedy refunds on luggage fees when bags disappear and more timely information about flight delays. Some visa requirements have been loosened. The trains got on track, too: California recently broke ground on its own high-speed rail project, and plans have been announced for Amtrak NextGen, which will cut travel time between Washington, D.C., and New York City from three hours to 94 minutes.
But there’s a long way to go.
I happen to have a to-do list right here.
This is the latest Insider column from Christopher Elliott, appearing in the November 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveler (on newsstands now).