5 Facts About Air Travel That Can Help Manage Flight Misery – easyJet Fearless Flyer Online Course
In the next month, I’ve got four big flights lined up. Meanwhile, my daughters are flying home twice from really far away for the holidays. It’s cool that we can travel almost anywhere nowadays, but let’s be real, all this flying can be pretty miserable.
There’s a book called “Why Flying Is Miserable: And How to Fix It” by Ganesh Sitaraman, a law professor. It talks about why flying is such a pain in the U.S. A study in 2023 found that people are getting more unhappy with airlines, except those flying first or business class. For the rest of us in economy, flying can be stressful, especially during the busy holiday season.
But here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to be this bad. Sitaraman explains why flights take longer and why they’re uncomfortable. He looks into the history of airline rules and suggests some fixes. I chatted with him about why airlines are leaving smaller cities, how deregulation led to cramped seats, and why you should be ready for the worst when you go to the airport.
One big issue Sitaraman talks about is the loss of access. If you don’t live in a major city like New York or L.A., it’s tough to get from one place to another. Airlines are cutting services to many cities, and since the pandemic, 74 cities lost service from at least one airline. Some places, like Toledo, Ohio, and Dubuque, Iowa, lost all their airline services. This makes it more inconvenient for passengers because now we often have to connect flights.
Airlines have also shifted from direct flights between cities to a hub-and-spokes model. This means big airports like Dallas or Atlanta become major hubs, and most flights connect through them. It’s efficient for airlines but annoying for passengers because it makes us connect even when we didn’t have to before. Plus, if something goes wrong at one of these hubs, it messes up flights across the country.
This isn’t just bad for passengers; it’s bad for communities. Economic growth, tourism, and family visits depend on good air service. If a place loses all air service, it’s hard for businesses to thrive. Sitaraman thinks more people should be upset about this and push for change.
He also talks about airline deregulation in 1978. Before that, there was a stable system with government regulations to ensure reliable airline service. But some argued for deregulation, thinking it would lead to more competition and lower prices. However, what we got was chaos in the 1980s with cutthroat competition, bankruptcies, and mergers. Over time, we ended up with fewer choices, worse service, and higher prices, which Sitaraman calls “monopoly capitalism.”
He argues that competition doesn’t work well in the airline industry, and we need to rethink how it operates. The costs have shifted, and what used to be a basic experience now comes with extra fees. Sitaraman believes we’re paying for these things in different ways, whether it’s through upgrades, service fees, or our time spent waiting.
Surprisingly, some of the people who pushed for deregulation later downplayed the importance of service quality. This has led to frustrated consumers lashing out at airline staff. Sitaraman suggests that if we had better regulations, people might not be as angry when they travel.
So, the bottom line is, flying doesn’t have to be this miserable. There are ways to make it better, but it requires rethinking how airlines operate and prioritizing the needs of passengers and communities.
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