It was all just as I had left it. I flew for the first time in nearly two years this week. During that hiatus, I had avoided air travel first because of the pandemic, and then because of the subsequent, behavioral pandemic of airline passengers being violent and mask-averse s—theads. I didn’t care to expose myself to either of those things. But you can’t stay home forever, and I had strangely missed the rituals of domestic flying. So I packed my roll-aboard and surrendered myself once again to the wonders and horrors of the American airport. Apart from masks, everything about the process was exactly the same as before COVID-19.
The question, though, is why? Why is America returning to the exact same air travel experience? Why didn’t the pandemic force the country to reckon with how awful flying is and want to fix it? During the early onset of the pandemic, I was desperate to get back to the way I used to live. Once I did, I suddenly asked myself why I ever accepted life as it was prior. I’m hardly the only person to have this epiphany. The Great Resignation was birthed when Americans — particularly white-collar Americans — looked at the commute-to-an-office-for-underwhelming-pay model for work and realized that it was inherently flawed.