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Were The Early 80's Really That Much Better On UA Than Now?

Were The Early 80's Really That Much Better On UA Than Now?

Old Dec 3, 19, 4:50 am
  #151  
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Originally Posted by ExplorerWannabe View Post
Once upon a time, an airline ticket was as good as cash and they had no problems exchanging them -- but that was also why you were in serious trouble if you lost your ticket. The book and movie "Catch Me If You Can" show how exploitable that situation was.
I still don't really understand this. Tickets were paper, but still there were records of your reservation on a computer somewhere.

1. If you lost your ticket, whats was the difference then and now? They are both papers and there's a record in a central computer/office somewhere? Couldn't someone just call reservation and tell them that their ticket was lost, and have it voided and reissued?

2. What about non refundable fares or if you missed your flight or cancelled?

3. Whats the difference between an e-ticket now and the reservation system of the past? What suddenly made the piece of paper worthless and reprintable as many times as you want? The words "Electronic Ticket" printed on your printout can't be all of it.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 5:01 am
  #152  
 
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Originally Posted by seat38a View Post
I still don't really understand this. Tickets were paper, but still there were records of your reservation on a computer somewhere.

1. If you lost your ticket, whats was the difference then and now? They are both papers and there's a record in a central computer/office somewhere? Couldn't someone just call reservation and tell them that their ticket was lost, and have it voided and reissued?

2. What about non refundable fares or if you missed your flight or cancelled?

3. Whats the difference between an e-ticket now and the reservation system of the past? What suddenly made the piece of paper worthless and reprintable as many times as you want? The words "Electronic Ticket" printed on your printout can't be all of it.
So, I can at least address this from experience with Amtrak until a few years back (may whomever made e-tickets work for them miss their next train):
-The ticket was not considered "issued" until it was printed off in some form.
--In theory, there was a refund fee...but due to how Amtrak's system (didn't) work, if you axed it before printing, that fee didn't tend to apply (since the ticket hadn't been "issued").
-However, once it was printed off, it was basically a negotiable document and utter hell to get refunded.
--You could only print it off once. Once you had printed it, you basically had a check from the airline, good for either travel from A to B or for the cash amount, in your hand.
-At least before some point, non-refundable fares weren't a thing (Amtrak's system simply didn't make that "stick" because of how it worked). On the airline front this tended to lead to them calling to "re-confirm" a reservation (since they couldn't sock you for a refund fee and if you weren't flying they wanted to re-sell the seat).

So, for example, I once "splashed" about a $2500 Amtrak trip the night before travel when a key part of the ticket blew up. I still traveled one leg (Richmond, VA-New York) and reversed that evening since I couldn't cancel without going to the station (I found out about the problem after midnight) and figured "What the hell, might as well take that leg if I've got to go up there". Today, that trip would have been non-refundable and I would have gotten soaked in the refund fees.

I once made a half-joking remark about using unprinted Amtrak tickets as a store of money for the unbanked. I can't say how well it mapped to airline tickets, but it was sure a godsdamned nice situation to be in and "fixing" it to the benefit of the airline is one of many things I despise the IT industry for.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 6:18 am
  #153  
 
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Originally Posted by 747FC View Post
Did you happen to catch the discussion above regarding the incredible meal selections and service in the 1980s in F?
Yeah. I flew a lot of F in the 80's.
1. Overall I'd say the food is better now.
2. Drink is a lot better now.
3. Maybe the very best food was maybe a little bit better then but not a lot better.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 6:55 am
  #154  
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I feel like the average food on the ground has gotten a lot better since the 80s too, which will influence perceptions.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 7:17 am
  #155  
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I keep seeing freshly tossed salad popping up. Is that even a thing these days outside of Lawry's?
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Old Dec 3, 19, 8:10 am
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Originally Posted by JimInOhio View Post
Every L-1011 I remember (DL, TWA, maybe Eastern) had 2-5-2 Y configuration Granted, that’s a long time ago so I could be wrong.
UA DC-10 and even some of the current sUA 777s had this configuration in Y. Great for sleeping if you got a row to yourself. Also not bad if you are on the 2 side.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 9:13 am
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
I feel like the average food on the ground has gotten a lot better since the 80s too, which will influence perceptions.
100 times this!
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Old Dec 3, 19, 9:16 am
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Originally Posted by seat38a View Post
I still don't really understand this. Tickets were paper, but still there were records of your reservation on a computer somewhere.

1. If you lost your ticket, whats was the difference then and now? They are both papers and there's a record in a central computer/office somewhere? Couldn't someone just call reservation and tell them that their ticket was lost, and have it voided and reissued?

2. What about non refundable fares or if you missed your flight or cancelled?

3. Whats the difference between an e-ticket now and the reservation system of the past? What suddenly made the piece of paper worthless and reprintable as many times as you want? The words "Electronic Ticket" printed on your printout can't be all of it.
To understand why printed airline tickets worked the way they did, you need to realize the old system was developed before reliable networked computers. So an endorsed ticket on official ticket stock was the best evidence of your flight reservation.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 9:31 am
  #159  
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Originally Posted by seat38a View Post
1. If you lost your ticket, whats was the difference then and now? They are both papers and there's a record in a central computer/office somewhere? Couldn't someone just call reservation and tell them that their ticket was lost, and have it voided and reissued?
You can't lose your ticket now, because it's electronic. In the old days, if someone had already refunded or used your paper ticket, you could be SOL. It was a lot like a check -- you can issue a stop payment on a check, and the bank won't honor it, but if it's already cleared, it can be a hassle to get it reversed.

But, yes, you could get a lost ticket reinstated: you'd have to pay the appropriate lost ticket fee and get it reissued.

Originally Posted by seat38a View Post
2. What about non refundable fares or if you missed your flight or cancelled?
I'm not sure that nonrefundable fares existed in the regulated era. In the 80s, you started to see them; if you missed your flight or cancelled, you'd have to pay the change fee to get the ticket reissued. The fee went from $50 to $75 about 2000. (CO and HP had a falling out because HP failed to match the increase; CO basically kicked HP out of OnePass and stopped codesharing with them).

Originally Posted by seat38a View Post
3. Whats the difference between an e-ticket now and the reservation system of the past? What suddenly made the piece of paper worthless and reprintable as many times as you want? The words "Electronic Ticket" printed on your printout can't be all of it.
It's not the words "Electronic Ticket," but rather the ticket number that's printed on it. Paper tickets were literally that: the airline would keep a coupon from the ticket when you got onto the plane. Without the ticket, you couldn't board. (If your boarding pass ever reads "Paper Ticket," you are still expected to have an actual ticket to give them. It's just that these days, 99 times out of 100, that's a mistake and indicates that your e-ticket wasn't processed properly). Electronic tickets are stored in the airlines' reservation system. If two people showed up with the same eticket number, only one would be allowed to board.

Note the distinction between a ticket and a boarding pass. Boarding passes could always be reprinted (assuming they hadn't been stapled to the ticket coupon yet, or, let's say you removed the paper ticket for whatever reason). A boarding pass, presented without a valid ticket (paper or electronic), isn't valid for travel. It's just a record of seat and itinerary information from a reservation. It's the ticket that's attached to the boarding pass that lets you get on the plane.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 9:39 am
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
You can't lose your ticket now, because it's electronic. In the old days, if someone had already refunded or used your paper ticket, you could be SOL. It was a lot like a check -- you can issue a stop payment on a check, and the bank won't honor it, but if it's already cleared, it can be a hassle to get it reversed.

But, yes, you could get a lost ticket reinstated: you'd have to pay the appropriate lost ticket fee and get it reissued.


I'm not sure that nonrefundable fares existed in the regulated era. In the 80s, you started to see them; if you missed your flight or cancelled, you'd have to pay the change fee to get the ticket reissued. The fee went from $50 to $75 about 2000. (CO and HP had a falling out because HP failed to match the increase; CO basically kicked HP out of OnePass and stopped codesharing with them).


It's not the words "Electronic Ticket," but rather the ticket number that's printed on it. Paper tickets were literally that: the airline would keep a coupon from the ticket when you got onto the plane. Without the ticket, you couldn't board. (If your boarding pass ever reads "Paper Ticket," you are still expected to have an actual ticket to give them. It's just that these days, 99 times out of 100, that's a mistake and indicates that your e-ticket wasn't processed properly). Electronic tickets are stored in the airlines' reservation system. If two people showed up with the same eticket number, only one would be allowed to board.

Note the distinction between a ticket and a boarding pass. Boarding passes could always be reprinted (assuming they hadn't been stapled to the ticket coupon yet, or, let's say you removed the paper ticket for whatever reason). A boarding pass, presented without a valid ticket (paper or electronic), isn't valid for travel. It's just a record of seat and itinerary information from a reservation. It's the ticket that's attached to the boarding pass that lets you get on the plane.
Back in the day, a "boarding pass" on AS was a handwritten seat number on a ticket, and a "boarding pass" on WN was a reusable plastic card with a boarding number on it.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 9:49 am
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The answer to the question is no.
Flight crews and management were often at war with each other on both Continental and United. I once had a flight crew walk off of the plane as we were preparing to leave to force managements hand as they would become illegal in 30 minutes. Management substituted another crew but then assigned the walk off crew to an early flight from the city we were flying to.
No sense of teamwork back then.
Seats were better spaced and food was more plentiful in Y back then. Boarding was by rows and cabins. Some special elites were able to pre-board with FC, but they were likely in FC anyway.
Even as a CO Bronze (or Level III) elite I found myself in F much of the time, but I could not bring a companion.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 10:02 am
  #162  
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Originally Posted by dilanesp View Post
Back in the day, a "boarding pass" on AS was a handwritten seat number on a ticket, and a "boarding pass" on WN was a reusable plastic card with a boarding number on it.
Yep, I remember exchanging my ticket coupon for a colored plastic card on many an occasion. Generally, I'd have a number over 100 and would end up with a middle seat. I still remember the time I got #12 for my HOU-AUS flight... I boarded in the first group, happy finally to be able to get a decent seat.. only to discover that the plane was filled with through passengers from JAN. I sat in the middle yet again...

Generally, though, most airlines (including UA and CO) would print a boarding pass for each flight segment and then staple the pass to the corresponding flight coupon. When you boarded the plane, they'd rip the boarding pass along the perforation, leaving the long part of the pass attached to the ticket coupon for their auditing, and handing you the short part so that you could find your seat. To this day, UA's boarding passes are set up the same way: if you look carefully at either a cardstock or a thermal paper boarding pass, you'll find that the confirmation number, seat number, flight number, sequence number, and (I think) a station code are printed in the upper right hand corner of your boarding pass. They're no longer as prominent as they used to be, because paper tickets are almost never used, but, if necessary, UA could follow that same process and you could still find your seat.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 10:15 am
  #163  
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Yep, I remember exchanging my ticket coupon for a colored plastic card on many an occasion. Generally, I'd have a number over 100 and would end up with a middle seat. I still remember the time I got #12 for my HOU-AUS flight... I boarded in the first group, happy finally to be able to get a decent seat.. only to discover that the plane was filled with through passengers from JAN. I sat in the middle yet again...
I'm nostalgic for the WN boarding cards. When I was a kid, showing up very early to get a good seat and plane spot from the terminal for an extra hour seemed like a win-win
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Old Dec 3, 19, 10:36 am
  #164  
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Originally Posted by dilanesp View Post
Back in the day, a "boarding pass" on AS was a handwritten seat number on a ticket, and a "boarding pass" on WN was a reusable plastic card with a boarding number on it.
OMG, I remember the boarding passes on AS. And when you went up to the gate podium to board the agent would check your boarding pass and use a pen/pencil to tick you off their piece of paper. This was in the 90's when my parents took the whole family to Cabo from LAX. Never flew WN during the plastic card days so can't chime in on that.
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Old Dec 3, 19, 11:25 am
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Originally Posted by 5khours View Post
No question. F on the best airlines now is way, way better than F on the best airlines in the 80s. Better seats, better food and drink, comparable service, fewer connections, easier to book, better lounges, better IFE, etc. etc.

As for United, that's a harder question. Seats and IFE are better now but everything else is worse.
The question in the title is a little more generic and specific. Generically, flying in coach or economy class in the 80s was much better than it is today no matter what airline you select. Specifically on United, I think Domestic F in the 80s was better than Domestic F today. Never flew international F on UA in the 80s but I did fly international F on TWA in the early 90s and I preferred it over international J today on UA. No way the food in international J on UA is better than on international F in the 80s. My connections then were about the same as now as there are still a limited number of international gateways. I didn't bother with lounges in the 80s or early 90s so can't compare but I find it hard to believe they were worse than the typical UA Club today -- there aren't enough Polaris lounges to make a fair comparison. As far as IFE goes, headsets/earbuds today are much better than the old uncomfortable ones of yesteryear but I usually carried books with me and didn't care about the movies. In Y, that's still the case.

Originally Posted by seat38a View Post
I still don't really understand this. Tickets were paper, but still there were records of your reservation on a computer somewhere.

1. If you lost your ticket, whats was the difference then and now? They are both papers and there's a record in a central computer/office somewhere? Couldn't someone just call reservation and tell them that their ticket was lost, and have it voided and reissued?

2. What about non refundable fares or if you missed your flight or cancelled?

3. Whats the difference between an e-ticket now and the reservation system of the past? What suddenly made the piece of paper worthless and reprintable as many times as you want? The words "Electronic Ticket" printed on your printout can't be all of it.
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
You can't lose your ticket now, because it's electronic. In the old days, if someone had already refunded or used your paper ticket, you could be SOL. It was a lot like a check -- you can issue a stop payment on a check, and the bank won't honor it, but if it's already cleared, it can be a hassle to get it reversed.

But, yes, you could get a lost ticket reinstated: you'd have to pay the appropriate lost ticket fee and get it reissued.
As I said, paper tickets were like cash. It was theoretically possible to get one reissued but it wasn't an easy or quick process. As jsloan says, it was a lot like a check.


Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I'm not sure that nonrefundable fares existed in the regulated era. In the 80s, you started to see them; if you missed your flight or cancelled, you'd have to pay the change fee to get the ticket reissued. The fee went from $50 to $75 about 2000. (CO and HP had a falling out because HP failed to match the increase; CO basically kicked HP out of OnePass and stopped codesharing with them).
IIRC, non-refundable fares were an innovation that enabled price reductions in the non-regulated era. In the regulated era, the fare was the fare which is why the physical ticket was about like having a cashier's check. According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airline_ticket), the IATA didn't get rid of paper tickets until June 1, 2008. I remember the tickets with red "carbon" imprints like this:



and I seem to recall they were sometimes hand-written. IIRC, this kind of ticket would get stapled to my boarding pass and then pulled when I boarded.
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