You end with "Thirty years ago, the airlines were regulated too much. Now, too little." From what I understand, though, many people don't enjoy their flights today precisely because of regulation -- the regulations that require them to check in hours before takeoff and submit to invasive security checks.
Ariella, That may be right but how about the high cost of flying? If you don't have direct flight, you'll pay a bundle and still spend hours on the road. We can't blame everything on the regulators especially once you are on the flight. Regulators didn't tell airlines to cut food or reduce snacks or eliminate movies on medium range flights (4-6 hours). Please spread the blame.
@Bolaji That's true. Those are the choices the airlines make in the attempt to cut costs and maximize profits. It's not necessarily mean-spirited, though it may come across as such. The rising cost of fuel really does take a bite out of the airlines' bottom line, and so many have felt they have no choice but to add on fees for baggage, etc. Regulations do require that all such fees be disclosed -- even government fees: Regulations are now going to even call for airlines to include government fees in fares. http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/travel/story/2012-01-10/Government-forcing-full-disclosure-on-airfares/52486078/1
I bought an international ticket once and was happy I would only be paying just under $1,000 for a trip of almost 14 hours. When I proceeded to "checkout" online, the fuel surchaged slapped on it took the total to more than $1750. Had to cancel! Is somebody really going to bring "Beam me up" to real life?
@Bolaji That is a most unpleasant form of sticker shock! Hiding those types of fees is what got Spirit Airlines fined last year as "DOT rules require any advertising that includes a price for air transportation to state the full price to be paid by the consumer, including all carrier-imposed surcharges. " I very rarely fly myself but notice other puzzline inconsistencies in the industry. For example, it ususally costs far less to fly to Florida from NY than it does to fly to Canada despite the fact that Canada is much closer. But I'm glad not to have to fly anywhere now because the last time I was on a plane, the turbulence even made the captain nervous.
I very rarely fly myself but notice other puzzline inconsistencies in the industry. For example, it ususally costs far less to fly to Florida from NY than it does to fly to Canada despite the fact that Canada is much closer.
@Ariella, I guess the price depends on the number of people flying between that route and on the number of flights between the routes. I guess more number of flights between the busy route brings down the cost of the travel because of competition.
@anadvy Yes, I figured that. But there is still the cost of the trip itself, which largely depends on the amount of fuel needed. A flight of less than an hour takes up less than a flight of more than 2 hours. However, there is more competition for popular routes, which is probably the real reason the prices come down.
"I would only be paying just under $1,000 for a trip of almost 14 hours. When I proceeded to "checkout" online, the fuel surchaged slapped on it took the total to more than $1750."
That's almost double the price you were going to pay, and quite shocking. It sounds to me a little suspicious, and also very disrespectful from the airline to let you know about the huge difference you would have had to pay only when you were checking out after having spent a considerable amount of time on your booking, to finally have to cancel. May I ask what the airline was?
It occurs to me that the Washington Monthly article mentioned in my column ought to be available to readers. Here's the URL: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/search2.php?search=Phillip+Longman+and+Lina+Khan%2C+Terminal+Sickness%22
The cost of flying today doesn't limit to the cost of the plane ticket. You have to take into account expenses at the airports if you are not on a direct flight, or in the city. I don't mind the airlines not showing movies anymore, but the cuts in snacks, food, and soft drinks/tea/coffee that now many airlines offer on a paid menu is quite annoying, especially is you are paying a high price for the ticket.
It's different when you fly an airline that offers you low-price tickets, and then you have the option of getting extra stuff on the flight if you want. This is what most of the airlines are doing in Europe. Some still give a little snack, though.
Ariella, your irony is well-taken. In fact I'm on a Lunatic Watch List in most airports after one too many incidents of throwing things at the impassive but intrusive minions of the TSA (Thousands Standing Around). Benjamin
"... the regulations that require them to check in hours before takeoff and submit to invasive security checks."
The last time I flew from the U.S. the security check was able to make me feel as if I were a terrorist. Security is Okay until it becomes too invasive, or when they start looking suspiously at you when they can't recognize a roll-on deodorant, and then ask you what that is as if it were some sort of bomb.
@Susan It seems a whole industry has sprung up around such regulations for acceptable carry-on items, small sized toiletries or containers that are guaranteed to fall within the TSA guidelines. And for all the safeguards, some things that are officially forbidden still slip through.
"and got a dirty look when I asked for a glass of water." AlmostalltheAirlinecompaniesaroundtheworldhavemadecutoffsintheirservicing.Itissadtogiveanormalamountofmoneybuyingairplaneticket,andyoudon'teventakeasmallsnack.
Your first paragraph really impressed me. I used to enjoy United Airlines, and my frequent-flyer status many moons ago. I considered United one of the best airlines in the world. Learning now about the leg space problem, extra pay to check-in luggage, no blanket, etc, saddens me. I still keep my UA Mileage Plus card as a nice memory of how much I enjoyed flying United.
As in Europe distances are so short I can't compare with any five-hour flight anymore. I can only say that I am happy to enjoy free in-flight Wi-Fi in one-hour flights.
Your article is bang on. I firmly believe that basic services like health, transport, mail, food supply should be a balance between open market and public policy. Luxury and non essentials should be left to the open market. My granny taught me all I need to know about geopoliticalsocioeconomics and that is "too much of anything is bad".
Too much of everything is definitely bad... but its a natural evolution. Too few competition (monopoly, etc) then a move towards a more competitive market... but then we go too far and since the barriers to go in and out of the market are so high, it makes all the players to have loses until a few can't make it anymore, then we see a more stable market and that leads to new entrants and so on... it wont stop.
"Too little regulation" is the last phrase that comes to mind when I'm going through the airport security line, but the analysis provided here is fascinating. Air transit is crucial to all of those enternal elements you mention, not just to passenger transit. The air travel industry as a whole has teetered on the brink of bankruptcy several times, so the winnowing out process seems to be over. Too bad, because as you point out, it was the competition of smaller airlines that made air travel better, as well as keeping prices manageable.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.