The problems for airlines and airports are myriad. High fuel costs, labor issues and pricing pressure from cut rate competitors combine with security issues to create a vicious cycle. Air travel was starting to unravel long before 9/11 because of the fact that price competition (often appearing to be predatory) led to hordes of low-priced passengers, turning airports into zoos and flights into unbearable cattle cars.
The fact is that air travel, as noted, remains critical for business travel. But with prices so low, everyone seems to think that hopping on a plane for even the most nebulous of reasons is a good idea.
If everyone flying on a plane pulled his or her equal weight in fares, the airlines would be making money and fewer frequent freeloaders would be clogging the system. Why spend hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funds to beef up security, so that more people flying for virtually nothing can simply make those lines longer and force airlines out of business?
Sound elitist? Perhaps. But in the post-9/11 world of transportation, travel has become so horrendous that it's time for us to truly look at what made air travel in the pre-Jimmy Carter era of deregulation actually work.
Since so many appear to be completely opposed to any regulation of anything (that is, except our own personal lives, what we wear, what we say . . . you get my drift), the best solution I can think of is for the airlines to boldly go where they went before.
Airlines should price tickets based on the business acumen which worked so well in earlier decades. Each ticket should be set to cover the costs of operations and be marked up for a profit; after all, these airlines are allegedly for profit. The endless number of tank-topped, flip-flop-wearing passengers riding on these seemingly flu- and bacteria-bearing flying tubes, need to return to flying only when necessary. Otherwise, they should drive a car, ride a bus or take up the habit of reading newspapers and books, rather than seeking $25 airfares to entertain themselves.