For Stranded Passengers, Imagining a World Without Planes

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Smoke and ash bellow from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano as the volcano is seen from Hvolsvollur, Iceland, on April 19, 2010. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty)

European officials struck a deal yesterday to reopen most of Europe's air space to plane travel as early as this afternoon, assuming Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano continues to subside. This would end the worst peacetime travel disruption in history, a travel crisis that has left thousands of passengers stranded for days and cost the airline industry hundreds of millions of dollars. But in the midst of the chaos and inconveniences, one philosopher took a moment to reflect on what our world would look like without airplanes.

Alain de Botton, formerly the writer-in-residence at Heathrow Airport, explains that we can learn a lot about ourselves and how we think about travel, crises and technology through this recent episode. We also talk with Tod Brilliant, an American who, with his pregnant wife, is stuck in the United Kingdom. They are trying to catch a flight back to their home in California.


Tod Brilliant and Alain de Botton

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja

Comments [2]


Mr. Botton must be crazy--these travelers aren't worried about getting back to their jobs because they think they're indispensable. They're worried about it because they know they're NOT indispensable and they're afraid that when they get back, they won't HAVE jobs anymore! Or if they do, their paid leave will have run out and they may not have made enough to pay the rent (if it's not already late because they weren't home to get the bills paid).

Sure, it might be a great "free" holiday for those who live in areas actually affected by ash and they can't go to work because of it, but for others, life goes on whether they're there or not, no matter why they're not there, and a job not done and bills not paid means these folks might have some very nasty surprises when they get home if this goes on long enough.

Apr. 20 2010 09:02 AM
Robert Prouse from Washington Heights

Slogan for the latest flight strategy in Europe:
"Europa est omnis divisa in partes tres"

Apr. 20 2010 06:11 AM

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