On November 18, Nate Silver wrote,
The Federal Aviation Administration agrees with the safety board that a child is safer when belted into a child restraint system, or CRS, and states on its Web site that “keeping a child in a CRS or device during the flight is the smart and right thing to do.”
But the F.A.A. continues to turn down the child seat request. The rationale? It maintains that doing so would require families — now accustomed to children under 2 years old flying free if they sit in a parent’s lap — to pay for the extra seat. That cost, the F.A.A. surmises, would cause some families to revert to car travel, which is less safe. “Consequently,” states the agency in its latest response to the safety board, “entire families would be subject to far higher fatality rates, which would produce a net increase in overall transportation fatalities.”
More stringent security procedures, in essence, function as a tax upon air travel, and produce a corresponding deadweight loss. Teleconferences are often a poor substitute for person-to-person interaction, and when people are reluctant to travel, some business deals don’t get done that otherwise would have. Recreational travelers, meanwhile, may skip out on vacations that otherwise would have brought them pleasure and stress-relief (while improving revenues for tourism-dependent economies). The tenuous profits of the airline industry are also affected, of course. Revenue losses from the new bag-checking procedures may have measured in the billions, according to the Cornell study.
Other passengers may substitute car travel for air travel. But this too has its consequences, since car travel is much more dangerous than air travel over all. According to [a study by three professors at Cornell University], roughly 130 inconvenienced travelers died every three months as a result of additional traffic fatalities brought on by substituting ground transit for air transit.