Our obsession with air travel

A few weeks ago, the IgoUgo travel blog came out with its Top 10 Big Media Travel Blogs. One thing that almost all of these so-called “Big Media” blogs have in common is their obsession with writing about air travel– as if the airplanes themselves are destinations rather than means of transportation. Over at the Budget Travel blog, every two or three posts is about air travel, and check out their recommendations of the “best blog posts elsewhere”, all of which are about transportation rather than destinations. USA Today’s Today in the Sky is also featured on IgoUgo’s list of best travel blogs, as is the Denver Post’s travel blog, which is aptly titled “Winging It.” Guess what those two are about.

A Google search for “cheap flights” yields over six million hits, “cheap airfare” is just under two million, and “cheap plane tickets” gives just over 1.5 million. Now, one of two things is possible: either there are almost 10 million inexpensive airline tickets for sale online (which I find unlikely), or people are obsessed with finding cheap airfare.

Because there are so many people who worry about air travel, I don’t expect every travel writer to simply ignore it. It’s a billion-dollar industry, and a large part of many frequent travelers’ lives. For instance, I don’t expect CNN’s Business Traveler Blog to review the best hostels in Slovakia. And obviously, finding the best fare is important– no one wants to pay more than they have to. But unless I’m on my last dime, I’d prefer to pay an extra twenty bucks for a flight and get on with my life rather than scouring the depths of the internet looking for the absolute best fare. It often seems that people spend so much time researching and writing about cheap airfares, seating charts, and average wait times, that it comes at the expense of learning about their destination.

Too many travel sections in newspapers, magazines, and blogs have mistaken transportation for travel. It seems to me that on any good trip, the plane ride is always forgotten anyway.

Posted by | Comments (7)  | October 27, 2007
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind

7 Responses to “Our obsession with air travel”

  1. jim@yosemitereservations Says:

    Maybe a lot of those hits are people who are “dreaming” the dream and not yet “living” the dream.
    That planning the airfare is as close to going as they are going to get.


  2. Sean O'Neill Says:

    Aaron, Interesting point.
    I’ve got a couple off-the-cuff responses.
    Buying a ticket is a universal. Writing about a particular destination will only interest a small-subsection of the audience on any given day. I bet that many blogs find that the reason cheap ticket articles are popular is because on any given day, a larger percentage of people are worried about buying a ticket than, say, the best street food in Bombay. The other thought is that the best destination pieces are reported on-location, while many bloggers tend to be stuck at their desk in a single location, partly because the blogging gig is only part-time.
    editor of Budget Travel’s blog

  3. Rainfield Says:

    once i followed the wrong transportation on a magazine, it was really bad.

  4. Alan Bender Says:

    Just off the cuff, maybe it is because the destinations turns out to be hotels that are just like the one across town. If you believe the spaces between stops are part of the experience I suggest Bicycle Urban Tourist Loops and escaping high impact travel on foot or bicycle.

  5. Charlie Says:

    Hi Rolf,

    We agree that travelers sometimes get so caught up in the journey that they lose sight of the destination—and I mean “journey” in the eight-hour flight, child kicking your seat back sense of the word, not the life-changing, eye-opening way. Now, more than ever, it seems that getting anywhere by plane is a guaranteed hassle; delays, cancellations, and heightened security can try anyone’s patience and make traveling an uncomfortable ordeal. That said, there is no way to ignore that the airline industry is critical to travel. It’s all well and good to focus our writing on off-the-beaten-path and shoestring travels, but you can’t hike through, say, Bhutan until you get there which, unless you live in western China, is going to necessitate an airplane ride. We hope that people don’t ignore learning more about their destination and ultimate journey (the good kind) for the sake of saving a few bucks on airfare, but as one of the costliest and most frustrating aspects of travel, the airline industry and ticket costs are parts of the experience that warrant coverage.

    A great post, and let’s hope that flying becomes cheaper and easier so we can all focus on the more important portions of our travel experiences.


    IgoUgo Editors

  6. Linda Says:

    […]thank for all your comments for letting me know that things which i never used to know […]

  7. TREVOR Says:

    When I go to Shanghai from Beijing, I often book tickets through http://www.bamboobookings.com, and every time I’m surprised to find such discounted prices for china domestic flights.