The bad news is that yes, it probably will get worse. The good news is that some simple steps can make a big difference.
The news that AMR's (AMR) American Airlines has canceled more than 3,000 flights, including 570 on Friday, makes small business travelers shudder. With similar actions by Alaska (ALK), Delta (DAL), UAL's (UAUA) United and others, more than 4,000 flights have been canceled for maintenance inspections in the past month -- and more are possible.
What is a small business traveler to do -- drive?
Oil closed at record highs on Thursday, topping off (groan!) at $112 a tank, er, I mean a barrel. Exxon Mobil (XOM) just made history, recently reporting the highest annual profits for an American company, ever -- $40 billion. (Said J.S. Simon, senior vice president of Exxon Mobil to Congress last week: "Our earnings, although high in absolute terms, need to be viewed in the context of the scale and cyclical, long-term nature of our industry as well as the huge investment requirements." Blah, blah, blah.)But even though it has become far more economical in terms of pure numbers to fly instead of drive these days, the plethora of problems at the airlines make that an unviable thought as well.
So we are faced with a Hobson's choice: Do you give your money to the incompetent airlines or the ravenous oil companies?
How about neither?
Take the train:
The first thing to consider is taking the train. No, it will not get you there as fast as a plane (well, then again ...), and no, it does not go everywhere you may need to go, but if Amtrak is headed in your direction, it is a viable, affordable, reliable option.