Programs: UA, DL, AA, Aegean Air, Cal Alumni (go Bears!)
Why no domestic US wide body flights?
I don't really understand why there are no jumbo transcon flights anymore. Sure, airlines say people want convenience of many departures but this just doesn't make sense to me. In the 1970s and 80s, TWA, PanAm, United, AA, National, Continental, etc. all had either 747s, DC-10s or L-1011s crossing the continent. Now, you're lucky if you get a 737! Yet passenger numbers have doubled. Even here in California, PSA had L-1011 service between SFO and LAX.
On top of that, congestion at major airports must be largely due to carrying twice the passengers in planes half the size. That would be four times the flights. What gives?
Programs: HH Silver, US Bronze, CO Nonepass, AS Non-MVP
Airlines quickly found that the widebodies were money-losers and gas guzzlers, as fuel prices spiked during the 70's and 80's and fares generally plummeted after deregulation. The larger widebodies gave way to smaller widebodies (747 to L1011/DC10 to A300/767 then to narrowbodies.
The key was the development of next generation narrowbodies with transcon range. Plus, business customers value frequency over aircraft size.
Yes, that's correct. The US business market values frequency over aircraft capacity, which is why there are more flights on smaller aircraft. But just as there is a new generation of efficient narrow-body aircraft flying in transcon service, there is a new generation of wide-body aircraft coming online that are way more efficient than the old 1011s, DC-10/MD-11 and 747-400s. While new generation wide-body aircraft are primarily oriented towards medium haul and long haul service, I will not doubt that wide-body US domestic service will still be available five years from now. The domestic travel markets will change by then and travel demand will be even greater than today.