|Reflections on the pathetic state of American Civil Aviation
||[May. 3rd, 2008|09:22 pm]
Leipzig ~ enroute Ft. Lewis WA to Carjackistan|
Having been in motion for over 14 hours now I have come to a horrible conclusion about the current state of air travel in the US. We all know, indeed, have known for some time now, that coach flight in the US has become something of a 19th century steerage affair, with Air Marshals and paranoid passengers ready to keep anyone from complaining too loudly. What this little jaunt has brought so forcefully to mind, however, is just how far it has fallen from 30-odd years ago.
Prior to Reagan, with routes and such controlled by federal regulation, air travel was something warm and pleasant, priced in such a way that not everyone did it all the time. If you were broke you took Greyhound, if you had a little money you flew coach, if you had more you flew first class. The airlines had spare money from the inflated, non-competitive prices, and the bus companies benefitted from a passdown effect. As a retult, coach air was a fairly nice experience and even bus travel was decent. Ronnie changed all that.
Open price competition has lead to a 'race to the bottom" on air fare, which rolled down onto the bus business, narrowing margins and, in the end, reducing everything to the most common denominator. The result is that everyone flys routinely, but in a pitiful.
Consider this: In the past 14 hours, flying a MAC cattle car, I have been offered three meals, three hot towels, and far more cola than anyone should drink. Nine stewardessess spread over more than 300 passengers have been attentive and polite throughout. In short, I have not seen anything like this in coach since I was twelve. Uncle Sugar, whose accomodations usualy classify as steerage, whose fights are booked for the unwilling by the uncaring, now provides something better than you pay for ordinarily.