Airlines Rack Up Huge Profits As Passengers Face Shrinking Seats And Rising Fees

ori_402-34292-2215352-Orig-Canadian-Pacific-AIRLINES-Poster-White-1960s-FRL9103MCCPAWe have been following the increasing lines at security checkpoints in our airports due to budget cuts and TSA incompetence while airlines pile on extra charges for passengers while reducing both room and comfort to the level of cattle cars. As passengers are treated with level more regard than cattle by TSA and the airlines, the airlines themselves are racking up huge profits. Indeed, the most recent report shows that U.S. airlines had a combined $25.6 billion in net earnings last year. Yet, the airlines successfully lobbied to kill a bill in Congress that would have required such things as the publication of leg room on seats.

The after-tax profit for 25 airlines with scheduled passenger service was more than three times the $7.5 billion reported in 2014. Not only that but average fuel prices are 35% lower than the prior year. This is the sixth consecutive years of profits for the industry.

Remember how the airlines justified those baggage fees on fuel costs? Well, they are not rescinding them. Indeed, baggage fees rose to $3.8 billion last year and reservation change fees totaled $3 billion.

Now here is what is most disturbing about the article below:

Four out of five airline passengers said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their travel experience, according to an Ipsos Public Affairs poll commissioned by Airlines for America. The majority of air travelers last year had household incomes of $75,000 or less, the poll found.

In other words, airlines have succeeded in changing the expectations of travelers. For those of us who remember air travel as comfortable and low stress, the status of travel today is nothing short of a scandal. I used to enjoy flying and now I avoid it whenever possible. It is punishing and degrading. Yet, the airlines knew that such memories would fade with the new generation and that they could lower expectations while increasing profits. They gambled on people accepting cramped conditions with few comforts and they won. Although some of us look at the rapid reduction of seat size and comfort for example, many have bought into the new industry move to treat travel more like a bus and people more like cargo.

So now we can wait for three hours in an understaffed TSA line and, if we can still make our flight, we can fight for limited space to store our bags to avoid increasing baggage fees and then squeeze into sardine-like spaces (or converted cargo bays). Where air travel was once an experience in itself, it has become solely a means to an end. It is the equivalent of replacing every fine restaurant with a vending machine on the theory that people only want food at the lowest possible cost. Call me a dinosaur if you will, but I will never forget the golden age of travel when airlines prided themselves on not just the arrival at a location but experience in getting there.

Source: USA Today

27 thoughts on “Airlines Rack Up Huge Profits As Passengers Face Shrinking Seats And Rising Fees”

  1. What non-thinkers like godfather fail to realize is that trying to achieve change by voting with your dollars is futile when every option, service or product, is the same.

    Believe it or not, consumers deserve some protection, but Republicans regard corporations more highly than citizens. Republicans hate people.

    The TSA would be more effective if the workers were unionized. Milton Friedman explains why in chapter 4 of Capitalism and Freedm.

  2. Simple solution to flying the airlines. Learn to fly your own plane. It is more fun and you avoid the TSA fools, along with surly flight attendants.. Of course, you should also get an instrument rating for the plane to be really useful, and/or get a poor CFII to fly you if you are out of currency.

  3. Paul,

    My sister home schooled all three of her children. At the time, I thought she was nuts. It turns out that all three are way ahead of their public counterparts and graduated faster and entered and finished college quicker. If I could do it all over again, I would never let my kids go to public school. Oh, and my sister is as liberal as they come.

  4. fiver

    You couldn’t be more wrong about schools. As you put it, I don’t know what country you live in but just try not paying your over bloated school taxes and see what happens. I know you know this, you just conveniently forget it in you diatribe rant where you feel the need to bash religion. You also know that even if I put my kid in the crappy public education system, I don’t get to choose what public school they go to, but you knew that already too. Yes, the public school system is very much a monopoly. It’s even worse, it’s a govt. controlled monopoly.

    Hey, I’m all for getting rid of croney capitalism since it isn’t true capitalism. That’s why I say get rid of the USPS and Amtrak. They both are heavily subsidised by the govt. It’s your love of big govt. that has screwed everything up. I was never for the bailout of the banks or GM and Chrysler. Let them fail.

    You also forgot to mention wind and solar croney capitalism. There really isn’t a finer example of it but I assume you feel that, that is good croney capitalism since it lines up with your belief system.

  5. Jim22,

    Not sure which country you live in, but, in the United States of America, the Postal service has, among others, Fed Ex and UPS as competition. Those who live in the US are also well aware that not only are there plenty of private schools, but also, those who mention Jesus can pretend to educate their kids at home – and it’s dirt cheap. They only have to buy one book, and the answer to pretty much every question is: “God did it.”

    Nope. No monopolies there.

    The health insurance monopoly still remains because the ACA was written by insurance companies (based on a Heritage Foundation model), was written for insurance companies, and specifically rules out state based, non-profit, single payer competition (until at least 2017). It’s pretty easy to be a rugged, risk taking, individualist when you get to write your own regulations on top of having a statutory exclusion from anti-trust laws and having the government impose a penalty on those who don’t buy your “product.”

    But it is also a tacit admission that “free enterprise” simply can’t compete in some areas.

    So, fine, don’t use the Post Office, and don’t use public schools (truly, we don’t care). You have choices; go for it.

    But maybe, as such rugged, individualistic, self-reliant capitalists, you all might consider paying the public back for all the times we subsidize and bail your rugged individualistic butts out (if you’re rich and well connected, of course). Or, obviously, you could just go under when “the market” says so. :-O

    Yeah, the reality of being a rugged, individualistic, self-reliant, capitalist is nothing like an Ayn Rand novel or a Trump speech (although they do seem to write at roughly the same middle-school level). But those who defend this crony capitalism might want to glance at the real world instead of watching FOX News while listening to ClearChannel.

    Because, in the real world, these airlines, while sucking at the public teat like a nuclear powered vacuum, are treating us worse and worse every day. And not only because we so often don’t have a choice (the drive to a Hawaii funeral can be a wavy ride), but also because crony capitalist wannabes keep pretending.

    1. fiver – those kids who are home schooled are also required to take the state mandated tests with the other students. Usually they are integrated into a small high school because they would be lost in a high school of 3000. So, they go to a charter high school or a private school.

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