Ask the Pilot columnist Patrick Smith opines how the U.S. was once the world's leader in aviation, but is no longer. U.S. airlines are finding it harder and harder to compete globally and long customs lines are a key factor. "The government seems to treat air travel as a nuisance, something to be dissuaded, rather than a vital contributor of tens of billions of dollars to the annual economy," Smith writes. "To add insult to injury, airline tickets in America are taxed to the hilt. Overall flying is a lot more affordable than it has been in decades past, but if it feels expensive, one of the reasons is the multitude of government-imposed taxes and fees."