Further assorted links


Articles on so-called bad air travel always amuse me, and this one is no different. He deals well enough with the cost issue - rising oil prices will mean rising air travel costs. That said, my own anecdotal evidence suggests that there are still incredible fares all over this great land of ours. I fly SJC-BUF pretty regularly and mostly fly less than $400, which is about what I paid 13 years ago when oil was $20/barrel.

But on the service front, the failure of basic economics always comes through. He provides all sorts of statistics about the symptoms: fewer employees, fewer routes, etc., but never mentions the basic fact: most travelers do not value great service. Most travelers are happy to trade good service for $30, $40, $50 or more. To see this, check in to almost any flight and notice that it is almost always easy to buy 'premium economy' seats. People complain about small, cramped seats, but rarely seem willing to spend an extra $50-$100 for a better more comfortable experience. My sense is also that companies have become more strict about what they allow their employees to buy when it comes to travel, so buying premium fares is less common.

On routes, he's cherry picking 2007 vs. 2012. When the economy tanked, I'm not sure it should be any surprise that the shorter routes are the ones likely to be axed, as people may choose to drive instead. That said, I still find it amazing the number of smallish airports that are serviced (I fly from Monterey, CA from time to time).

Finally, using hub airports as a metrics seems similarly problematic. This seems like part of a larger trend away from 'hubs' and towards more Southwest style point to point and multi-stop itineraries. O'Hare's traffic is down 13%, but what about Midway (where Southwest flies)? It seems like most of the cities he lists are not really destinations (Cleveland anyone?), but were used as hubs, and some consolidation has eliminated the need for so many hubs. Does that suggest that it's more difficult to get from A to B? Maybe on the legacy carriers it does, but there's no evidence in this article to suggest some larger negative trend. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but the evidence presented is pretty weak.

It's true that energy drives a lot of that. The same thing has caused passenger air travel to become much, much more energy efficient per passenger mile as well. This is largely because planes are fuller, which is largely due to better scheduling. Of course fuller planes reduce the traveler experience in a number of the ways mentioned.

3) is simply another example of how race in Mexico is a bit more complicated than a lot of people realize.

You might even end up summoning Steve Sailer by posting that one.

Air travel more expensive and inconvenient? Sigh, I guess its one of those US centric articles. The range of great international flyers and flights has never been greater. And generally speaking they have great service (Emirates, Singapore, Etihad, etc etc). And the costs are lower than ever, I pay less to fly business from Asia to Europe or the US than I ever did, going back 15 years, and those airlines pay the same oil price as the US airlines.

I would never fly international with a US based airline, unless there was literally no other choice. My guess is that the US has bad airline service because it is largely a protected industry with strong unions. Just look at the trouble Virgin America had getting approved because they might have a British owner. Isn't that the most blatant example of protectionism ever? Where they can't complain about foreigners they put in onerous rules and regulations.

'Isn’t that the most blatant example of protectionism ever?'
Nope - it is defense policy. Especially in light of the never secret Cold War plans to essentially instantly convert America's civil fleet to a military one - by loading up soldiers, and flying them to airports which would already be under U.S. control.

There are a lot of not exactly hidden but seemingly unknown reasons for much of what goes on in the U.S. that are related to defense policy - the airline industry being a fine example. Check into Eisenhower's dedication to America's autobahns, a dedication he learned in an expedition trying to drive Army vehicles across the U.S. a couple of decades before the German program - though oddly, he could have sent everything by train, to arrive it arrive in just a couple of days, as America had a train system that was the envy of the world.

How things change - and it having to do with protectionism. And any connection to oil in the world's largest oil producer in that time frame is, well, coincidental seems to be the general consensus in American discourse (as if First Lord of the Admiralty Churchill's 1911 plans to convert the Royal Navy to oil had gone unnoticed, including the need to secure foreign sources. Or the plans in the 30s to either secure or wipe out Ploesti, the world's largest refinery complex at the time, a standard military academy exercise of the major powers of the time).

Why do so many people seem to believe that larger planes are more comfortable than smaller ones? The only thing that really affects my comfort is the size of the seats and the space in between them.

air stagnation? i agree with ChrisA, article is kind of US centric. International flights are nice and relatively cheap. I'm a PhD student, not exactly drowning in cash, but still i can afford leisure America-Europe travels with relative ease 3 times.

From what my parents told me as an anecdote, is that air travel used to be more expensive, that kind of stuff you do on vacation once a year or reserved to bussinessmen. Could it be that air travel population have changed from big spenders to cheap travelers as me? Air carriers have to adapt to cheap travelers, cramped spaces, bad food, etc.

caution! stupid homophobic-misoginist comment!!! was has really stagnated about air travel are air hostess. when i was a kid i was marveled on the beauty of air hostess. nowadays, lots of gays and the same air hostess when i was a kid, but nowadays they are 50+ years old =(

Go to JFK. Strong corrolation between how a wealthy a society is and how hot the stewardesses are.

Air travel (domestic) has become a commodity.

#3: This is best understood in terms of the apocryphal Joseph Stalin quote: "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic."

If you there is some unique aspect to your plight, even something perfectly incidental, then people will care more.

#3 It was my observation living in Honduras for a while that the upper class are still mostly from European descent and that the lower classes are mostly from from native stock.

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