Friday, June 29, 2012
A while back I saw a story about how the airlines have never made any money, except for Southwest. (Here's one story, not the one I remember, but it covers the main point.) Oh, some of them may make money some years, but overall the airlines have lost 60 billion dollars since deregulation.
I was talking to my daughter about airline ticket prices not too long ago, and she was concerned about a $100 price difference in a ticket to Argentina. The deal was something like $1800 if you fly direct, or $1700 if you have a 37 hour layover in out-of-way misery land. I explained to her that if airfares were still regulated the fare would be more like $5,000 and so she shouldn't quibble about the $100.
Then I got to thinking about it, and I realized it wouldn't take a 250% price increase to alleviate most of the petty annoyances of air travel. (I'm talking about things like leg room, sit width, decent food, free baggage checking. I'm not going to even touch airline security, I'll leave that to Jennifer.) 10% would probably be more than enough, and would probably allow the airlines to make a profit to boot.
This says something about the people in the airline business, though I am not sure what. Once upon a time I heard something along the lines of "airlines are sexy". I never understood that, except that stewardessess are usually young, attractive women, who I find sexy. Maybe it's the engineer part of me, or the part of me that doesn't like crowds, or maybe it's just that I don't like sitting still for hours on end, but there is nothing I like about being a passenger on a commercial flight.