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100 years of commercial aviation
Old 01-01-2014, 07:45 AM   #1
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100 years of commercial aviation

Did you know that the first commercial flight took place 100 years ago today, on January 1, 1914? Flight certainly has been a disruptive technology. I think flight and computers were the two most important technologic innovations of the 20th century.

IATA - New Year
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Old 01-07-2014, 05:34 PM   #2
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It's amazing that we complain about comfort and legroom on a 5 hour cross-country flight. Yet how far we've come - 150 years ago people spent months and risked their lives to make the same trip.
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Old 01-07-2014, 06:27 PM   #3
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........ 150 years ago people spent months and risked their lives to make the same trip.
Yea and no free peanuts.
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:47 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Surfdaddy View Post
It's amazing that we complain about comfort and legroom on a 5 hour cross-country flight. Yet how far we've come - 150 years ago people spent months and risked their lives to make the same trip.
Wow - Transcontinental railroad opened 1869. Before that - tough crossing!
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Old 01-14-2014, 02:27 PM   #5
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It's amazing that we complain about comfort and legroom on a 5 hour cross-country flight. Yet how far we've come - 150 years ago people spent months and risked their lives to make the same trip.
Very true that we complain a lot. I think the reasons we have ended up in such a state (complaining about the miracle that the last 100 years has brought) has a number of factors:

1. We always expect things to get "better". Those who recall the switch from an all propeller driven fleet to a virtually all jet fleet know what I'm talking about. The improvement in speed, comfort and reliability was dramatic. What in the past 40 or 50 years can compare with that transition beginning in the late 50s and more or less complete by the mid 60s. Can't really count the Concorde because of its limited routes.

2. Early competition to gain customers (and fight for customers) made air travel equivalent to a magic carpet ride - including the veiled genies feeding us peeled grapes and fine wines. Well, a bit of an exaggeration, but watch the movie "Catch Me If You Can" to get an idea of what it was like in the late 60s.

3. Now, primarily because of cost squeeze, seats and space have shrunk, service is hit and miss, food is bad and/or non-existent and reliability is spotty as well.

4. Realistically, we have entered an age where "everyone" can fly - not just rich people. It is the "bus" of the 2000s. Clearly a very "good" thing with some "bad" side-effects.

5. More specifically, the price for air travel is nominally not very different from the 1960s (quite often around $.10/mile back then and not so different today when you book it right.) So, something had to give. Our "enjoyment" of air travel is primarily what has suffered. For the most part, you can still get from A to B at 500 miles per hour, just like you could with the "new" jet fleet. Now, it's no fun, because it's not exclusive, luxurious, comfortable, "sexy", exotic, etc. etc.

All in all, I am glad we have our transportation system. I dread using it, though I still want to "be" other places from time to time. SO, 10 to 20 hours of discomfort and shear drudgery are not too high a price to pay to have the ability to "be" 5000 miles away from the starting point.

No, I didn't forget to mention airport security. I suppose we could argue about whether that is an "outside" factor, independent from the airline experience itself. True enough, it's a royal PIA and probably too expensive, not particularly effective (vs. the "let's roll" mentality which is what I believe has stopped hijacking) and it has virtually (and overnight) taken away more freedom(s) than any outside force (though, just my humble opinion, so YMMV).
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Old 01-14-2014, 03:03 PM   #6
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...
5. More specifically, the price for air travel is nominally not very different from the 1960s (quite often around $.10/mile back then and not so different today when you book it right.) So, something had to give. Our "enjoyment" of air travel is primarily what has suffered. For the most part, you can still get from A to B at 500 miles per hour, just like you could with the "new" jet fleet. Now, it's no fun, because it's not exclusive, luxurious, comfortable, "sexy", exotic, etc. etc.
...
I remember seeing an I Love Lucy show where they were going to fly to Europe. The cost was $300. I just looked up New York to London, round trip $860. At the same time the home that my parents bought for about $9,500 is now worth $595,000 on Zillow. We gave up some leg room, but the flight time is much less, we get free movies, and a lot more safety. All in all a pretty good deal. Thinking about it, I am ready to go now...
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:10 AM   #7
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No, I didn't forget to mention airport security. I suppose we could argue about whether that is an "outside" factor, independent from the airline experience itself. True enough, it's a royal PIA and probably too expensive, not particularly effective (vs. the "let's roll" mentality which is what I believe has stopped hijacking) and it has virtually (and overnight) taken away more freedom(s) than any outside force (though, just my humble opinion, so YMMV).
On my most recent trip, I have apparently been adequately vetted, and now have pre-TSA designation, or somesuch, meaning I don't have to remove my shoes and can leave my 3oz bottles in the bag. Slight improvement...
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:53 AM   #8
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I remember seeing an I Love Lucy show where they were going to fly to Europe. The cost was $300. I just looked up New York to London, round trip $860. At the same time the home that my parents bought for about $9,500 is now worth $595,000 on Zillow. We gave up some leg room, but the flight time is much less, we get free movies, and a lot more safety. All in all a pretty good deal. Thinking about it, I am ready to go now...
Air travel is a terrific deal. If somebody wants an "experience" similar to 1960s international air travel, they can buy a first-class seat (for about the same inflation-adjusted price as coach used to be) and get pampered, fed good food and drinks, and have lots of room. Or pay 1/3 as much and get to the same place (spend the money at your destination). Even in coach the entertainment options are much better than in a 1960's airliner's first class section.
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:10 PM   #9
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Even in coach the entertainment options are much better than in a 1960's airliner's first class section.
If you call screaming babies, seat-kicking/hogging passengers, spotty ventilation, inadequate storage, and NO snacks, not even a bag of stale pretzels, entertaining...
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:15 PM   #10
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The following was before my time, but in the good old days, a stewardess would toss your salad on demand, and carve prime rib roast before your eyes.

I do not think the above was worth the cost, but one does not get it even in first-class now, with RT tickets running $10-15K.
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:16 PM   #11
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If you call screaming babies, seat-kicking/hogging passengers, spotty ventilation, inadequate storage, and NO snacks, not even a bag of stale pretzels, entertaining...
Sometimes one needs to make one's own entertainment. An inventive passenger could probably pay for his trip through the sale of earplugs, granola bars, hand sanitizer, facemask respirators and cattle prods to his fellow inmates.
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:23 PM   #12
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...a stewardess would toss your salad...
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