Category Archives: Travel

HelpJet: Disaster Evacuation in Style

images.jpeg AIG may sell boutique wildfire insurance, but that’s nothing on HelpJet:
The new service from West Palm Beach-based Galaxy Aviation guarantees its well-heeled members a seat on a chartered jet out of the hurricane zone, reserves five-star hotel rooms and limousine transfers and rolls out a red carpet — literally.

“We call it evacuation in style,” said Brian Rems, who came up with the HelpJet concept.

Hurricane Victims Can Evacuate in Style, By MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press Writer Saturday, September 16, 2006

Naomi Klein points out the flip side:
For the people left behind, there is a different kind of privatized solution. In 2006, the Red Cross signed a new disaster-reponse partnership with Wal-Mart. “It’s all going to be private enterprise before it’s over,” said Billy Wagner, chief of emergency management for the Florida Keys. “They’ve got the expertise. They’ve got the resources.” He was speaking at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Florida, a fast-growing annual trade show for the companies selling everything that might come in handy during the next disaster.

Disaster Capitalism: The new economy of catastrophe, By Naomi Klein, Harper’s Magazine, September 8, 2007

So what are we looking at here? Clever entrepeneurs seeing a market need and filling it? Or the calculated privatization of every government function (Klein)? More to the point, is it good risk management?

Oh, and is there really money in it? currently is all about Galaxy Aviation, and doesn’t say Help Jet anywhere, nor does it mention the kinds of services Help Jet was selling. (I’m pretty sure that’s the right URL, since Google still shows old initial text for about.html as “Not any more with Help Jet, the world’s first hurricane escape plan that turns a hurricane evacuation into a jet-setter vacation. Here’s how Help Jet works. …”) Meanwhile, AIG has been known to start a line of insurance just to see if it will sell.


Fear of Flying and Fear of Terrorism

fearofflying.gif Here’s a good way to think about it:

…jet travel is safe enough that when someone suffers form fear of flying, he is asked to seek treatment. Flight attendants don’t grab the microphone and say, "We have someone on board who is afraid to fly. This means we are all in great danger." Yet in regard to terrorism, the most frightened voters are being allowed to dictate security policy. Unless you are personally anxious, you are considered unrealistic in the face of the terrorist threat, and politicians feel forced to be "strong on security," meaning that they must appeal to fear rather than to courage, patience, and trust. Therefore, it is up to each individual to nurture those qualities at home and spread their influence to others. Security is a quality of consciousness and always has been. Now is the time when personal security needs to come forward to counter mass insecurity.

How to Feel Safe and Secure (Part 2), Deepak Chopra, Huffington Post, September 28, 2007 | 03:21 PM (EST)

Or, as Bruce Schneier keeps saying, "refuse to be terrorized."


Passport Friction

Ben Hyde has an interesting bunch of thoughts about verification friction:
We recently got new passports, a project that was at least a dozen times more expensive and tedious than doing my taxes. I once had a web product that failed big-time. A major contributor to that failure was tedium of getting new users through the sign-up process. Each screen they had to step triggered the lost of 10 to 20% of the users. Reducing the friction of that process was key to survival. It is a thousand times easier to get a cell phone or a credit card than it is to get a passport or a learner’s permit. That wasn’t the case two decades ago.

Friction, by Ben Hyde, Ascription is an Anathema to any Enthusiasm, 10 May 2007

He mentions some cases where friction may actually be socially useful, as in making it harder to get liquor and easier to get condoms, or some automobile traffic engineering. Then he gets to the especially interesting part. Continue reading

Highways or parking lots?

All highways going north from Houston as Hurricane Rita approaches currently look more like parking lots than highways, in Houston traffic cameras.

Would it be a good idea to include in an evacuation plan that inbound sides of highways will be converted to outbound during the evacuation?

At least everyone does seem to be evacuating a day in advance.