At ONT airport (Ontario California, east of L.A.) you can now once again get a pass to meet your family at the gate. That stopped on 9/11. But modern technology should be able to get rid of security lines and restore us to those simpler times of the past when flying wasn't a nightmare. Through the use of remote inspectors who can keep the x-ray belt rolling non-stop, and appointments at security and other tricks there is no reason most of the nightmare that airports have become can't be fixed.
Ideas for air travel and how to really run an airline
Today I attended the launch of the Alef, a new e-VTOL vehicle that drives as well as flies. Most so-called flying cars don't actually drive, and there are reasons for this, but Alef thinks the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
I've been friends with Alef since 2018, though I have no stock, so here's my report on the issues in their design and launch.
Airlines have removed change fees on many flights, a trend started by the pandemic. Everybody has wished to get more flexibility in airline ticket pricing and changing, though airlines want to squeeze out every dollar that every passenger can afford. The new trends in flexible work may allow an option to please both sides with tickets that allow the airline to change when you fly to fill seats in exchange for a lower price and easier changes.
I've tended to downplay the early e-VTOL designs that are essentially big multirotor drones for people, including Volocopter. But the reality is that these designs, while losers in the long run, are winning the early race because they can get approved and in the air sooner. Here's an examination of Volocopter and what may happen long term.
I'm fairly convinced that soon we'll see ambulances switch to e-VTOL flying machines. So many advantages, hard to see downsides. Nobody is going to complain about noise and privacy issues of an ambulance. This announcement by an e-VTOL company and an air-ambulance company of a collaborative project is thus interesting, if preliminary. However, it's also interesting that they view hydrogen as the fuel. H2 has lost in cars, but has some positive attributes for planes, particularly an ambulance.
Ready to get on a 10 hour overseas flight, wearing an N95 mask, sharing bathrooms, in the middle seat between two coughing passengers? I didn't think so. With all the idle cruise ships out there, would you sail across the ocean like your grandparents in a private cabin if they followed good virus procedure? 4 days stuck in a room (kinda like now) to prove that your virus test is accurate to the country you're heading to.
As LAX and other airports push ride-hail to remote lots (which you have to take a shuttle to in the case of LAX-it) I examine why that's a crazy decision in my new article at Forbes.com. In the article I also touch on how we can eventually move to being picked up, not at the curb, but at the plane, in an airport with lots of robocar pods.
There are over 100 companies out there developing small VTOL "flying cars." And they're all making different decisions on several important design choices. I've written a breakdown of the key design decisions and what they mean, which forms a sort of taxonomy.
Readers all know I love robocars and write about the tremendous effect they will have on our lives and cities. But a new technology, running about a decade behind but now real, is coming which could have even more dramatic effects, the e-VTOL or "flying car."
The more you travel the less luggage you want to take. Our world where a laptop and phone can almost do it all, combined with the cloud, is helping. But sometimes you have to bring stuff in checked suitcases.
When you do road trips, especially outside the USA, you learn that most cars don't have the trunk space of North American cars, not even close. You're lucky to get two rigid body suitcases in the typical small car, 3 needs a car with special capacity.
This week I attended the "Revolution.Aero" conference on advanced new ideas in aviation, including electric VTOL aircraft (often called "flying cars.") I learned that there's a lot of interesting new stuff going on in aviation, but the strong regulatory environment keeps much of it repressed.
A couple of years ago I released my list of factors by which robotaxi companies might compete. Many people wonder if there will be a natural monopoly, limiting us to one or two companies per city, or if we might get more.
When you travel, a whole ton of online resources are available, but there is still great value in the classic guidebook that you pay money for. Free tourist information (particularly from tourist boards) is not acting in your interest. Some of the ad or booking supported travel sites do give independent information (or aggregated user information) but they have their biases as well, and are also full of review-spam.