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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 4, 19, 8:43 am
  #196  
 
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
This is definitely the one thing that gets me about some of the nostalgia, especially for "when Y was a nice experience". If you want to pay regulated Economy prices and get a decent flight, you still can.. it's called today's premium cabin

That being said, one thing that really depresses me about flying these days is how almost no one thinks it's special or magical anymore. We don't need to keep dressing up in coat and tie, but it's just sad to see pax in a spectrum between a belligerent, aggressive "come at me, do your worst, United" attitude and curling up in a ball praying it will be over one minute faster. People dress down to fly, try to sleep every second of the way, and now there is a deep-rooted cultural expectation that the flying experience is one of the most miserable times of your life rather than the excitement of a special trip. Pax used to be happier, and in even in premium cabins it's a very transactional "let's get this done with quickly" experience (admittedly also in keeping with the ever-faster pace of modern life).
There were also $99 transcon R/Ts way back when on aircraft with noticeably greater seat pitch than 30". It's hard to say flying today is a bargain when looking at this particular comparison.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 8:56 am
  #197  
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Originally Posted by JimInOhio View Post
There were also $99 transcon R/Ts way back when on aircraft with noticeably greater seat pitch than 30". It's hard to say flying today is a bargain when looking at this particular comparison.
It's hard to compete with random anecdotes ($99 is awfully cheap for a transcon back in the day, and all reliable sources concur that average fares have remained roughly constant in nominal dollars since 1930), but even today you can fly LAX-NYC round-trip for $72 (in 1982 dollars) or as little as $50 if you want to fly Frontier (and not non-stop). If "way back when" is before Carter-era inflation, then this difference becomes much more dramatic.

I think the grand conceit is that the number of dollars to fly on a plane has never really gone down, and we are really, really bad at considering inflation.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 9:20 am
  #198  
 
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
It's hard to compete with random anecdotes ($99 is awfully cheap for a transcon back in the day, and all reliable sources concur that average fares have remained roughly constant in nominal dollars since 1930), but even today you can fly LAX-NYC round-trip for $72 (in 1982 dollars) or as little as $50 if you want to fly Frontier (and not non-stop). If "way back when" is before Carter-era inflation, then this difference becomes much more dramatic.

I think the grand conceit is that the number of dollars to fly on a plane has never really gone down, and we are really, really bad at considering inflation.
This *1000

I paid $199 roundtrip with an advance purchase to fly BUR-SEA in 1981, the first ticket I bought with my own money. That is NOT actually cheaper than what it costs to fly that route today.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 10:46 am
  #199  
 
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Originally Posted by JimInOhio View Post
There were also $99 transcon R/Ts way back when on aircraft with noticeably greater seat pitch than 30". It's hard to say flying today is a bargain when looking at this particular comparison.
The airline alliance concept has improved flying worldwide (lounges, int'l recognition). But as you say, while premium seating is much better now, economy seating was considerably better back then. The passenger = sardine concept hadn't quite been finalized by the early 1980s. And despite technological advances in onboard food preparation, it hasn't worked to our (the passengers') advantage. Here is a list of what you could order a day in advance, even in domestic economy, for any PA flight 3 hours or greater. (I hesitate to post an international First Class menu because drooling can damage your keyboard.)
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Old Dec 4, 19, 10:57 am
  #200  
 
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Originally Posted by AlreadyThere View Post
The airline alliance concept has improved flying worldwide (lounges, int'l recognition). But as you say, while premium seating is much better now, economy seating was considerably better back then. The passenger = sardine concept hadn't quite been finalized by the early 1980s. And despite technological advances in onboard food preparation, it hasn't worked to our (the passengers') advantage. Here is a list of what you could order a day in advance, even in domestic economy, for any PA flight 3 hours or greater. (I hesitate to post an international First Class menu because drooling can damage your keyboard.)
I flew Pan Am domestic economy (LAX-JFK-LAX) in the 1980's. Seat pitch was 31 inches, and none of this stuff was available. You got a standard airline meal. It was fine (and better than what international Y passengers get now), but nothing spectacular.

Are you sure about the date of this?
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Old Dec 4, 19, 11:32 am
  #201  
 
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Originally Posted by dilanesp View Post
I flew Pan Am domestic economy (LAX-JFK-LAX) in the 1980's. Seat pitch was 31 inches, and none of this stuff was available. You got a standard airline meal. It was fine (and better than what international Y passengers get now), but nothing spectacular.

Are you sure about the date of this?
To be able to order these meals, you had to be a member of their FFP (which means it wasn't earlier than the 1980s), and order it a day in advance. As you can see from the comment in the lower left-hand corner, these meals were available in any class, although not plated as nicely if you were in economy. I was working my way up to a 250k mile award (miles didn't expire), which was continuous unlimited positive-space first class for 2 people worldwide for 30 consecutive days. As we've seen from an attachment on another UA forum describing the loss of MP award charts, nowadays on a good day 250k on DL might get you to Cleveland.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 11:36 am
  #202  
 
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Originally Posted by 747FC View Post
I'm curious about your perceptions related to the professionalism and customer service orientation of today's F/As vs those back in your days of service. Might you share your thoughts?
I think it largely tracks those things in society as a whole.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 11:48 am
  #203  
 
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Originally Posted by Bear96 View Post
I think it largely tracks those things in society as a whole.
It probably doesn't help that United stole the FAs pensions, but they're trapped working for a company they resent because moving to another airline would mean resetting their seniority and basically restarting their careers.

I imagine a fair number of flight attendants thought that they'd be retired by now.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 11:52 am
  #204  
 
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Originally Posted by Bear96 View Post
I think it largely tracks those things in society as a whole.
There are great crews, good crews, indifferent crews, and borderline-hostile crews, and always have been. The ratios of each have usually depended on the culture of the underlying airline (which I won't get into here). But the shift has been somewhat to the right along those groups. To be fair, the passengers have changed also, as have traveling conditions (security, dense seat packing, etc.). It's a whole different vibe, as I'm sure it also was different in the 1950s and early 1960s before I started flying.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 11:54 am
  #205  
 
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Originally Posted by Bear96 View Post
I think it largely tracks those things in society as a whole.
I notice that you are a WN, DL and LH flyer, which I am not. I assume your "society as a whole" comment, which I value, suggests that WN, DL, and LH F/As are much like UAs?
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Old Dec 4, 19, 1:03 pm
  #206  
 
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Originally Posted by 747FC View Post
I notice that you are a WN, DL and LH flyer, which I am not. I assume your "society as a whole" comment, which I value, suggests that WN, DL, and LH F/As are much like UAs?
Pretty much. As a generalization I find WN's to be a little friendlier and more outgoing on average but that may just be because WN management seems to encourage them to be more "fun" (which might not come across as "professional" to some people).

BTW, don't take me not listing UA in my profile as meaning that I try to avoid UA. I don't. It is just that WN and DL have much better schedules to where I need to go these days from Tampa, where I now live. And I LOVE LH's TPA-FRA nonstop - best way to go between Tampa and Europe by far. I do still occasionally travel UA if they have better flights, like when I visit family near IAD and SFO where UA has the only nonstops from TPA.

Which reminds me of another difference between then and now - an almost unlimited number of scheduling options to get from A to B these days. Look at airline timetables from a few decades ago - very few flights compared to today. From TPA for example, DL has hourly flights to ATL and from there you can get practically anywhere in the world, often nonstop. People knock the hub system but in terms of sheer numbers it really has opened up flight options to a degree that were unimaginable in the supposed good old days.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 2:21 pm
  #207  
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Originally Posted by Bear96 View Post
And I LOVE LH's TPA-FRA nonstop - best way to go between Tampa and Europe by far.
I've heard the soft product is pretty sub-par on that route as it is LH "Cityline" and the plane lacks an international F cabin while simultaneously having small J and PE cabins as well.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 2:55 pm
  #208  
 
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Originally Posted by st3 View Post
I've heard the soft product is pretty sub-par on that route as it is LH "Cityline" and the plane lacks an international F cabin while simultaneously having small J and PE cabins as well.
Correct there is no F; it is a relatively small three-row / 2-2-2 configuration (18-seat) Business Class cabin up front. I quite like it; it feels a bit exclusive and intimate and I think with such a small cabin the service is better with fewer people for the crew to take care of. I don't know about PE; I try to remain ignorant about what is behind the curtain.

I disagree that the soft product is sub-par. The on-board service is identical to LH mainline. Same Business Class meals and lie-flat seats; same IFE; etc. (Or did you mean mainline LH Business is sub-par?)

I enjoy it and have had good experiences but I am pretty low maintenance. And you can't beat landing in TPA, going through a mellow U.S. customs / immigration check (very few int'l flights to Tampa) and being home in 20 minutes, instead of going through customs immigration at a huge place like ATL or EWR or somesuch with passengers from hundreds of other overseas flighs; then re-clearing TSA; then having to wait around for a connecting flight and still being hours from home when you are already exhausted.

Oops - off-topic - sorry!
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Old Dec 4, 19, 6:33 pm
  #209  
 
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Originally Posted by seat38a View Post
Wait, but I thought they were not FA's. Wouldn't NW and UA still have to have the same legal number of FA's regardless of the ISR's?
FAA dictates the number of crew on the flight and they don't care about the number of people serving drinks. They only care about the number of people who can help to evacuate the plane in an emergency. ISR's didn't serve drinks, but they reduced required headcount so the airlines could by with fewer unionized drink servers.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 7:18 pm
  #210  
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Originally Posted by 5khours View Post
FAA dictates the number of crew on the flight and they don't care about the number of people serving drinks. They only care about the number of people who can help to evacuate the plane in an emergency. ISR's didn't serve drinks, but they reduced required headcount so the airlines could by with fewer unionized drink servers.
Ok so ISR's were trained as the FA's like to say "For Your Safety," and were certified to help in evacuations, but it was just union rules that prevented them from serving drinks. If that is the case, why were the Unions against the ISR's? Just make them union dues paying FA's who wore Kimonos and be done with it.
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