Unpopular opinion, airplane travel doesn't suck anymore

famejranc's picture
Rank: King Kong | banana points 1,740

Airplane travel used to be terrible, but not anymore. The security lines move quickly and they have enough staff to keep the wait times down. There are tons of good restaurant and drink options within airports and the prices are pretty much the same as in the city. Phone chargers everywhere and free wifi is standard. Airline tickets have come way down. I actually like taking short flights now where I may have chosen to drive the same route in the past.

Comments (9)

Most Helpful
Nov 13, 2018

The security thing has gotten so much better, hasn't it? There's so little friction in traveling now. And a lot of routes now have Wi-Fi and seatback entertainment. The new planes have terrific air quality as well.

Here's an unsolicited, wandering rant.

I hold a very unpopular opinion about air travel about which I'll argue at length: in the consumer (read: leisure) air travel market, people actively shop for the cheapest airfare more because it's a social norm to do so than because it's an economically rational choice.

People don't exhibit nearly the same price sensitivity in shopping for accommodation when they travel. But the differences in quality between a budget airline (RyanAir, Frontier) and a premium airline (British Airways, United) can be much greater at the margin than in hotels or AirBnB, especially when you consider the airports used, the reliability of service, and the likelihood that customers will want to sleep on board. Comfort is still important.

You see this not just in the airline choice, but also in the time of travel. I cannot think of any other circumstance in which an ordinary middle class adult would choose $100 over a night without sleep, but you see it pretty frequently when people buy plane tickets.

I suspect that this behavior is fueled by airlines' continually choosing to compete on the basis of price. That is to say, I think the causal link here is actually backwards. Airlines have assumed customers care more about price than they do, and customers don't know what they want. I think there's an opportunity out there for an enterprising airline to become the anti-RyanAir.

Nov 16, 2018
Henri Poincare:

I suspect that this behavior is fueled by airlines' continually choosing to compete on the basis of price. That is to say, I think the causal link here is actually backwards. Airlines have assumed customers care more about price than they do, and customers don't know what they want. I think there's an opportunity out there for an enterprising airline to become the anti-RyanAir.

Hm. That may be the case now, but certainly wasn't true historically. Whenever folks complain about how terribly airlines treat their customers, or how they nickel and dime on every little thing, or how travel used to be this far more pleasant experience, I think that this is what we as a consumer base have asked for. It's absurdly cheap to fly these days, and that is a direct result of airlines realizing that a very few people/firms were willing to pay almost any amount of money to travel in style, and most others just want to cram themselves into a disgusting metal tube with no amenities if it means saving $50.

I do agree that there must be an opportunity to bring back a mid-range airline. I flew on La Compagnie a few years back and while it wasn't cheap (~1,500) it was far cheaper than a first class ticket and far more comfortable than flying economy. I feel like there must be a market for that, especially for longer, non-red eye flights like cross-continental flights or cross-atlantic flights.

Nov 13, 2018

Many of the problems OP lists were mainly American, while in Europe they mostly never existed.

    • 1
Nov 13, 2018

Air travel sucks depending on what you do and where you go. If you visit big hubs, have TSA pre (or CLEAR), global entry, lounge access and decent status with your preferred airline, then air travel is OK. If you don't have all this, it's a bitch.

Nov 13, 2018

It has never been cheaper to fly long haul business/first class for either dollars or miles in lie flat seats with on demand/quality dining and entertainment.

I agree with OP.

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Nov 13, 2018

Airports and airline companies are getting better.

I find the worst part is the other people. Percentage wise, people are normally great. But it only take 1-2 people on each flight to basically ruin it. For example, a person at the terminal taking up four seats for no reason, someone refusing to check luggage when they should, people bringing four week old babies on a plane.

    • 1
Nov 16, 2018

I'm curious how many of you guys travel often (more than once or twice per month). I actually think air travel sucks if you don't fly first class, and even then it's not great. Seats are cramped and inevitably you'll get some douche next to you that wants to take all of their space and half a foot of yours too.

Also, airports may be getting better, but domestic airlines sure aren't. The only thing that has improved is the price (at the expense of comfort and service). Putting an outlet in between my seat doesn't make up for the fact that my knees are touching the seat in front of me and I have Joe Schmuck next to me that is 5'10 285 and doesn't fit in his seat.

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Nov 16, 2018

I travel on average once every 1.5 weeks. Will have about 100 segments by year end. Been international 3x this year.

If you don't fly first of MCE, the seats suck. Pitch keeps shrinking, the people around you are idiots and are largely slobs.

If you don't have access to lounges, serious status and precheck/clear, air travel blows.

Tickets are cheap - big shit. They are cheap because more clowns are sandwiched into a tin can.

Nov 16, 2018