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A rare miss from TFP - seems like it happens about once every other week which is a damn good hit rate.

How do you publish an article that purports to claim everything we know about the success of airline deregulation is wrong without including facts and figures?

It seems to be common knowledge that prior to 1978, flying was an incredible expensive endeavor primarily for the upper class and since then, it’s been democratized for the people. If that’s wrong and the data shows that prices have actually not come down, that’s huge news! But you’d think some actual information would be included in an eleven minute article.

It seems clear that we could all stipulate that a once-in-a-century policy disaster like the Covid response would shatter the travel industry and there’s plenty the airlines did wrong. So this article is the dog that didn’t bark.

If the author could show why pre-1978 was better than post-1978 and then offer up solutions on how to improve from where we are, he would do so. Instead, he spends an inordinate amount of space on side issues and non-sequiters.

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As a former Air Traffic Controller I can leak stories that would curl your toes. Suffice to say, I don't fly. For example, does any one believe that weather this year is any worse than other years? If you do, I have an EV SR71 to sell to you.

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I just found an old ad from American quoting a $178 round trip ticket from LA to NY in 1977. And i just googled a price today and the first price that came up was $228. Median hosehold income in 1977 was $12,000 and its $68,000 today. So on a realtive basis one would spend 1.5% of your income in 1977 and 0.3% today. So it's 4.4x cheaper today. Not sure I care enough about having a hot meal and few inches of legroom to pay 4 4x more.

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Oh I forgot, intelligent people who have been in transportation, especially flying, have been the Sec. of Trans. and they still have tough challenges. And petey's bona fides? He's gay and takes time off while the transportation system is in crisis to welcome his newborn. He should be a great dad. In fact, he should resign from Sec. of Trans. to be a full time dad. That had to be the best 3 months of a well run Trans Dept under joe's administration. I use to think Cheney and Rumsfeld where the most corrupt and worse politicians ever. joe's administration makes them look like Einstein with with an IQ of 1000%. Yes I know it doesn't go that high. Unless you are being compared to one of joe's cabinet members.

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Very roughly, for the average price of a ticket in 1980, you can buy a first class ticket today. If you want 1980’s service, legroom, free bags, etc., you can buy it. Most people don’t.

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I worked in airline marketing during deregulation and flew a lot for business. Flying during regulation was infinitely better because, as many commenters say, there weren’t as many people flying.

The writer isn’t proposing that we go back to a time when few people could afford to fly to improve the flying experience. He’s proposing that we apply what we learned during regulation to support sustainable airline businesses instead of reacting to crises and spending trillions and still end up with hundreds of bankruptcies. For example, I suspect his book will share what was learned during regulation about balancing profitable long haul routes with less profitable short haul routes. If running an airline were less volatile, they could focus on making flying experiences better and compete based on value instead of cheap pricing. But you have to buy the book to find out.

I say that’s smart.

1) Why should he give away what he knows for free?

2) Applying learning from the past to make things better is so much smarter than copying the past (without a clue about what worked or what didn’t) because the numbers scale, when that is basically because the population is bigger and outsourcing makes a commodity offering cheaper.

3) Making something worth paying more for creates value for customers, employees, business partners, the cities served, etc - which is why the business can be resilient during a crisis instead of requiring government bailout.

It is so refreshing to hear that the next generation is more interested in making things better than moving fast to break things. Yeah!

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I won't claim the airlines are necessarily well-run businesses. They suffer from the same tendency to short term thinking that all publicly traded companies do. But they are highly competitive, and that means they are exquisitely sensitive to price/demand signals. So we, the flying public, wind up getting exactly what we care most about: the cheapest possible ticket. And since they can lower the cost of providing their service by reducing amenities and squeezing more people into the plane, that's exactly what they have done.

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It's a little dishonest to pine for the regulated pre-1978 era with only a passing hint at the fact that air travel was so expensive that ordinary Americans couldn't afford it. Hence, the term "jet set." And I don't see how the pre-1978 regime would have handled COVID any better.

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The price/comfort “problem “ is a supply and demand issue. Plane manufacturing has not kept up with plane demand for decades. Take a look at Boeing and Airbus 10 year backlogs. Airlines have the leverage to charge a lot for an uncomfortable product because planes are full and there’s nowhere else to turn. It’s that simple and it’s not going to change. Government intervention will just make it worse.

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A misleading headline. The article says next to nothing about “what to do about it.” Perhaps there is more in the book than just “reflect more carefully” on the past.

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Toldeo is 45 minutes from Detroit's airport, which is a major hub. One could argue that the absence of flights to Toldeo shows the effectiveness of deregulation rather than the problems with it.

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If I had known we were going to skip the "How to Fix It" part mentioned in the headline, I wouldn't have bothered reading this article. I didn't need to waste eight minutes of my life to learn that flying sucks.

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I just wasted my time reading this long article whose subtitle proposes ways to fix the airline mess but in the end offers no solutions at all.

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The biggest problem is the pilot shortage. In the USA, pilots have to accumulate 1,500 hours of flying time before they can take the ATP pilot test to start training as a first officer with an airline. That requires at least 250 hours of instruction to get your commercial license, followed by usually additional training to get a multi=engine license, plus a lot of poor-paying jobs to built the hours to qualify for the ATP exam. There simply are not enough people who can afford this.

In most of the world, airlines take pilots right out of training school at perhaps 250-300 hours, and then develop them. Despite the fewer hours, that is probably safer, because the trainees start very early on with training on the commercial airliners that they are ultimately going to fly as captain or first officer. In the USA, you end up spending time on several different types of planes and thus have to UNLEARN some habits in order to properly fly a commercial airliner. Flying a Cessna Caravan is very different from flying a Boeing 737.

It is considered impossible to change this in the USA because if they do, the news media will run scare stories about having inexperienced pilots on commercial jets, and no member of Congress would vote for it.

The irony is that our largely leftist media, which always wants us to be more like Europe, would be lobbying AGAINST the very model of pilot training that European airlines use.

And on top of that, US pilots have one major advantage. English is the language of commercial aviation, so in other countries, pilots have to master English in addition to their flying skills. American pilots don't have this problem.

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This is not much more than an advertisement for the author's book. For example there is zero discussion of what the solution to the problem is. I searched online and found this from a review: "Sitaraman’s solution is a return to government oversight, with regulation of prices and a licensing system to ensure that all cities receive service." OK. The FAA or someone is going to dictate prices? That has never worked. We could alternatively enforce existing laws on predatory pricing. When I fly from Washington, D.C. to California if I fly from Washington Dulles on United I pay a much higher price than if I fly out of Baltimore (a short drive away) where even United matches the low price offered by Southwest Airlines. When Southwest began flying out of Dulles, United lowered their price until SW left, and then raised their price back to the existing high levels. This is a clear violation of the Sherman anti-trust act, but our DoJ instead of investigating and prosecuting this sued Microsoft over their bundling of Windows with a web browser (remember the browser wars?). We need to open our skies to real competition! Another approach would be to allow foreign airlines to fly between the east and west coasts. We might even get lie flat seats that are offered internationally!

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I can't believe this article didn't have one mention of the dreadful and intrusive post-9/11 "security" procedures. Also, part of the employee shortage is due to vaccine mandates, also not mentioned.

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