Travel Advice: Traveling With Kids And A Look At Air Travel Over Time

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

Larry Meiller finds out whether the “good old days” of air travel were really that much better, plus advice for traveling with children.

Featured in this Show

  • How Has Air Travel Changed Over The Last 60 Years?

    People who rhapsodize about the “good ol’ days” aren’t entirely off the mark when it comes to air travel: According to Rick Seaney, the CEO of FareCompare, many of the irritations associated with air travel today weren’t around a few decades ago. (Though, as Seaney also points out, not everything has changed for the worse.)

    The luxury of space may be a vague memory for most travelers today, but Seaney said that seats indeed used to be bigger, and that only about half of all flights were full — a contrast to the present, when flights are routinely sold out.

    “So not only did you have a seat of your own, but you often had an empty one next to you as well,” Seaney said.

    In the past, a free item of checked luggage was standard, and on international flights, you could sometimes even take two along without incurring additional costs. Today, most airlines charge for all checked bags on domestic flights.

    There also used to be more people assigned to the cabin crew, so there was better service in-flight. Meals were included on many flights, whereas today most airlines have even done away with the peanuts and pretzels.

    And of course, security measures have become much more stringent after Sept. 11, resulting in more time spent in lines taking off shoes and belts, and limitations on how much liquid can be packed in carry-ons.

    But on the other hand, one big difference might make all of those inconveniences worth it: Cheaper ticket prices mean that air travel is no longer limited to an elite group.

    “In 1954, the airline tickets from New York to Los Angeles were $99 each way. That may seem really good, except that it’s almost $2,000 in today’s dollars,” Seaney said.

    Seaney said that the same cross-country fare today is about $300.

    “As recently as 1978, about 275 million people in this country were flying each year. By 2014, the figure for U.S. passengers jumped to nearly 850 million. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a trust fund baby or stuck in a no-frills middle seat, because we all get something priceless: the fastest and safest mode of transportation we have,” Seaney said.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Rick Seaney Guest

Related Stories