From the congested seats of the economy cabin, where the constant crinkling of peanut wrappers, snores of sleepy sightseers, and tears of testy toddlers are all to be heard, to the leisurely lounge chairs of first class, air travel has changed in more ways than one since the first passenger bearing flight in 1919 (Grant 132). The air travel industry has experienced considerable changes; the majority of which occurred between the mid-1950s and today. Every aspect of commercial aviation has been changing over the last fifty years. The largest transformations can be seen in a few areas: the price of flying, the security and safety of flying, and the quality of the flight experience for passengers.
Up until 1978 air fares were regulated by the government. This means that the cost of flying was determined by the federal government and kept the same for all airlines; if a trip from Los Angeles, California to Seattle, Washington was one hundred dollars for one airline it was one hundred dollars for every other airline as well (“The Jet Age:1958-Today”). Because regulation restricted airlines from competing by offering lower fares, many airlines focused on drawing in customers with exceptional service and hiring attractive young women as stewardesses to please businessmen (Hickel). In 1978, The Airline Deregulation Act was passed, lifting any restrictions on routes and pricing for airlines across America (“The Jet Age:1958-Today”). The passage of this act greatly changed the airline industry. Had these changes not been created, travelers today would not enjoy the relatively low fares and extensive travel routes that are offered to them. Deregulation had another significant benefit, it triggered a boost in the popularity of air travel. During and before the 1970s, the time of airfare regulation, the average passenger-load factor (PLF) was a mere fifty percent (Perry). Because of high fares and minimal routes, air travel was not a popular form of transportation and planes were only half-full. Since that time PLF has steadily risen. By 1991 the average PLF had risen to 62.6 percent. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics the average PLF for 2014 is 81.33 percent (Perry). Commercial airlines are carrying more passengers today than in the earlier days of air travel. Air travel has become a preferred mode of transportation among Americans largely as a result of increased convenience and lower costs.
A round trip between Cleveland, Ohio and Washington D.C was seventy-five
dollars in the 1960s (Hickel). Although this may not seem like much compared to the two hungered and forty dollars you would pay for that same flight today, when adjusted for inflation it equates to roughly four hundred dollars (“Low Fares to Washington D.C.”; Hickel). The price of air travel today when compared to those in the 1980s or 1960s has changed drastically. The price per mile of air travel has decreased by more than fifty percent since 1980...