Air travel is getting worse. With all the small companies getting wiped out it gets harder and harder to get from point a to point be.
Inflation and especially astronomical fuel prices happened. Unions happened and 9-11 happened. Southwest Airlines and other cut rate carriers happened. Then technology happened so thanks to Skype, Facetime, Go To Meeting and other electronic ways to conference business flights are less important. Business travelers that kept airlines airborne are vanishing. Some smaller carriers simply went away while large airlines were gobbled up by other large airlines. Finally, people happened. Flying changed from being special to ordinary. We treat planes like busses and trains so airlines treat us accordingly.
Mix it all together and getting from place to place is certainly more expensive and less fun and, yep, probably harder too.
@Gadgetjq Great summary of the current status! I totally agree.
Most airport security in the US is window dressing. As far as screening passengers, airports are a security specialists dream. Everyone goes single file getting on an off the airplanes and access to the airports are limited. Compare that with a bus or train station where the focus is moving the maximum number of people in the shortest amount of time. Bus and train stations have multiple street entrances and multiple platform entrances and exits. You can't be at all of them all the time but with an airport, it's single file at the gate and the gates are on piers with a single entry/exit.
It seems to me that a lot of flights are unnecessary, that the train may be a better alternative. For example taking a train from Los Angeles to San Diego should be a superior option. By the time you get from Los Angeles to San Francisco it would be a toss-up.
Of course my statements above are conditioned on improving our rail system which is abysmal.
Just to add a bit of detail, trains should easily be able to approach 100MPH and you should be able to go from downtown to downtown.
Airports tend to require more travel time to get two, then there is the whole loading process. The plan needs to taxi out on the runway, gain altitude, then descend; etc.
Basically, it seems to me that any trip of less than 300 miles should be done by train.
We have the airline system we are willing to pay for. Simple as that.
If passengers would be willing to pay for good service then that's what they would get. Face it, the economy sucks and to get people on the planes the airlines can only charge the bare minimum to get causal travelers onboard. Tack on fees get them closer to break even.
Last minute business travelers up front subsidize the cheap fares in the back and have for decades, since deregulation. BTW, that last word is the actual answer to your question.
I've spent more time in airplanes that I care to remember. Up to the early 90's, I actually enjoyed traveling by air. The airlines were really trying to make their customers feel special and the airport were usually friendly. Then it started to deteriorate.
In the last 10 years, I started to detest flying and would prefer to take a train if it was an option. But the distances are such that I have to accept it: The airlines want me to consider it a favor to let me fly with them. TSA agents feel quite free to bully people. Cattle herds come to mind every time. I noticed that in Asia, things are not nearly as bad though.
Flying is just such a pain...cattle car coach seats, lines, expensive, poor service are just a few of the reasons I have not flown anywhere in over 10 years...and plan to not fly unless absolutely necessary.
The best flying experience I have these days is with Southwest Airlines. Their folks seem to try harder. The rest seem not to care.
Not like the days in the 1970's & 80'. Of course, then you paid 3x the current fares & there were MANY open seats.
I guess it depends on where you are flying to/from. A recent trip took me from MSY (cattle herd/uncaring attitude) to COD.
On my return from COD, not only were the airline reps nice, so were the TSA. I was actually brought my musical instrument (in a soft case, overhead bin) by hand(s) (BOTH) as though it were an infant. I have NEVER been treated with such consideration in all my flying experiences!
Kudos to Cody, WY.
The TSA helps to prevent flying from being a pleasant experience.
Meanwhile, the fact that the legacy airlines continue to pay to maintain control of the gates is a perfect barrier to entry to airlines which run things better. Support airlines with better service and the legacy airlines will continue to lose gates to carriers with better service. But as long as they can afford to pay to maintain control of the gates, they can keep the competition away because airports have very limited space.
Uggh, this makes me dread flying back into the USA.
Well said. In addition to 9-11, I think political correctness has also happened as we have to search EVERYONE equally so as not to offend any one particular group of people. Pain in the rear for over 99% of the population though.
Asian carriers (particularly on flights originating and terminating in Asian countries) are a night and day difference. I recently took a 45 minute flight in Thailand and they served a meal, nicer than what you typically pay for these days, for free.
What are you afraid? that is part of our new socialized health care plan, it is a bundling program and you get x-ray and a proctologist exam for the price of an airline ticket.
Gadgets right about most of the changes. I would add that most attendants are nice but I have watched some terrible treatment of them by customers. Sure we want to get home on time but with today's caution on weather travel and overbooked flights delays will happen so be prepared. Carry ons are now being charged baggage to cover costs. I understand the cost crunch but I would like the lost luggage, time delays minimized. As for TSA I usually chat with them and have polite responses. Keep in mind they are looking for unusual behavior so if you are getting overly out going then they may become less friendly and more business. It's their job care of the fruitcakes who like to blow up planes and people. overall like others have said it's not as "exotic" as the past but maybe we are also looking at the inconveniences more. We tolerate change less, want more done faster and better as well as cheaper so are our expectations out of line? For the most part I say no but polite complaints can still improve things. Vote with your wallet. That still gets attention.
...disappeared years ago. TWA was the best (in my opinion) back in the late 60's and 70's. They had great service and the best coffee of any other airline. Sadly, they have gone the way of the dodo bird.
The downhill slide started with de-regulation. When they had guaranteed profits, essentially, they had no excuse for not doing a good job and they did better. But when you take the same group of people and totally change their world by making them compete with each other - bad things tend to happen.
Making TSA agents a federal employee creates more Democratic voters but doesn't do a lot to help the logic or positive attitude. They are individuals and I have not been poorly treated by any of them. But somebody acting "nice" is the exception. The process itself is dehumanizing in the extreme.
The worst part of the body scanners is not the fact that somebody can see under my clothes. The worst part is having to take every single little thing off and out of my pockets and then have it lay there on the belt for an extended amount of time while they do their thing. It is not unusual for the maching to still not work and you get the pat down. Meanwhile your pocket money and everything else lays there on the best for somebody to walk off with. Best solution is put it all in your bag before you get there.
Less than 5 hours driving and I will drive. More than that I fly. I do not dread it, it is not that bad, but I don't look forward to it either. The worst experience I've had recently was a tiny little flight attendant with an attitude who decided to single me out for putting two bags in the overhead storage. Didn't make my day but she had a point too. But the big problem is too many people in the system see their role as "security" or "safety" and not "customer service". True of most TSA agents and unfortunately a good proportion of the flight attendants. I helped more people with their bags than did my friendly flight attendant. This makes their jobs unpleasant for them and us. That sort of nonsense is in a lot of cases avoidable with training but the airlines, for the most part, haven't decided to make it happen. Maybe Southwest has, I don't have them as an option.
including one flying lesson that my ex thought would help me get over my fear...all the airlines could close tomorrow and it would not affect me in the least. I hate flying...the times I have flown my entire trip was ruined worrying about the flight back. If I can't get there by car, motorcycle, train or boat I simply don't want to see it.
Add in the pinhead d-bags that run/work for the TSA and the "treat passengers like crap" mentality of most airlines...it not a wonder some have closed...it's a wonder all have not!
I agree. Can't get from point A to B without going through a hub!
The downhill slide started with de-regulation. When they had guaranteed profits, essentially, they had no excuse for not doing a good job and they did better.
If all fares had to be approved by a regulatory body then the "no excuse for not doing a good job" argument might carry some weight since poor service could be cited by that agency as a reason to reject proposed fares or fare increases. However...
But when you take the same group of people and totally change their world by making them compete with each other - bad things tend to happen.
...I think the nature of the competition simply changed. If fares were regulated then the airlines would compete with better service, and if those regulations were lifted then the airlines would start competing with lower prices (if that's what the traveling public wanted, and apparently it was).
Professor Alfred Kahn and a group of lawyers looking for a payout went after the airlines which ended in deregulation. It opened air travel to essentially anyone. If you wanted to jet down to see Aunt Millie for the weekend, it was not a problem.
There were a number of goals to be achieved by deregulation. Destroying the unions, replacing the incumbent airlines with an ever ready supply of upstarts that would soar until they Chapter 7nd out only to be replaced by another new upstart, were two. There were 2 ferocious runs at the unions, but the final one due to 911 essentially BK'ed almost all the Major airlines and destroyed many good paying jobs along with their pensions. Can you imagine a public sector employee being told, sorry you must take a 50 to 60% pay cut and oh by the way, you no longer have a pension.
I was in the industry from the 60's and am now retired. I prefer not to fly due to the fact that it is just too much trouble. I really feel for those business types that have to travel.
The costs of running an airline are astronomical. The jet alone can cost over 100 million. When everyone has access to the lowest price instantly via the internet, it leads to the weakest carrier setting a price that a profit cannot be made at.
Welcome deregulation... errrr well almost, Congress thinks they can keep tinkering when it affects their personal travel plans.
Flying changed from being special to ordinary. We treat planes like busses and trains so airlines treat us accordingly.
No bus company would keep people on a bus for 7 hours with out letting them off. Or getting them where they were supposed to go.
We used to have 2 regional carriers that served this area, then lost one. The remaining carrier replaced the smaller planes with more efficient larger models. On the surface that seemed to be an improvement, but then they have cut back on the number of flights per day. They then seem to have a rash of mechanical or weather problems that either delay or cancel flights on a regular basis and they always seems they are over booked by a seat or two. On arrival at the hub, there is a real good chance your delayed flight missed your connection and now you sometimes are stuck at the hub for hours or even another day until you can make your connection. If there was a train or a bus, I'd take it.
Just did a quick search of an airline and a bus company going from Chicago Illinois to Dallas Ft. Worth today. Both fares are web only.
Chicago-Dallas 4hours 10minutes $119.00 (2 legs)
Chicago-Dallas 23hours 20minutes $135.00
Everyone has to make their own decision. If you want to fly nonstop, a little over 2 hour flight, the price goes way up and you have to contend with possible weather. If being on a bus for almost 24 hours is not a problem then that could be your choice. Weather is usually not a problem.
I think it boils down to consumers being willing to put up with the headaches of air travel. I think that ultimately consumers decide the fate of an airline or any company for that matter (just ask Netflix how that's going).
If in fact the only reason you choose an airline, or any other product for that matter, is based only on price, then inevitably the quality of the product will decline.
I for one, will never choose an airline based only on cost.
The Yugo was one of the best cars ever made!
After my unpleasant USAir experience I plan to try and stay on Delta for the next few flights. They seem to be at least attempting to provide decent customer service. They have the disadvantage of Atlanta as a hub but everybody has issues. The fixable part to me is the customer service. They all delay in telling you what is going on WAY too long but if they can at least be pleasant, it would be a step above USAir.
No bus company would keep people on a bus for 7 hours with out letting them off. Or getting them where they were supposed to go.
Greyhound passengers stranded in bus 14+hrs in Northern Ontario
just do a search on Passengers stranded on bus and you get pages of examples.
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