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Flying Before Deregulation  
User currently offline7E72004 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3587 posts, RR: 1
Posted (12 years 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 5379 times:

What was it like flying before the airline industry was deregulated? Does anyone have any experiences they would share? thanks  Big thumbs up

The next generation of aircraft is just around the corner!
28 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineTristarenvy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 2265 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (12 years 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 5354 times:

I think most will agree that:

Travel by air BEFORE deregulation was something you: A) Really looked forward TO, B) Paid a hefty sum FOR, and C) Dressed nicely and behaved civilized ON.

Going somewhere was an event. You were part of the "Jet Set"!

Because at the price one paid to travel, back in the day, it wasn't something the average Joe could afford to do.

(And as I am a pretty average Joe, I thought flying back THEN was IT!)

[Edited 2004-05-13 22:39:42]

If you don't stand for SOMETHING, you'll fall for ANYTHING.
User currently offlineMrniji From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (12 years 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 5345 times:

exactly, it was expensive to go and a special occasion and...

... it was like real flying: engine sound, old projectors, cheap seats..  Smile

User currently onlineOzarkD9S From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 5665 posts, RR: 20
Reply 3, posted (12 years 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 5305 times:

As a non-rev brat I was fortunate enough to travel extensively in the early/mid 70's for a nominal rate (which Mom covered as I was a kid).

But, yes:

1) Flying was an event, except perhaps for the business traveller.

2) Nonrevs had dress codes and I NEVER got on an aircraft without a dress shirt, dress slacks and dress shoes.

3) It was rare to see other passengers in jeans, t-shirts, etc...sometimes other kids who were not nonrevving, but hardly ever adults.

4) The seat pitch was better, the food was better, the service seemed more personalized.

5) The variety of aircraft and airlines at airports seemed more varied, as there were few airports dominated by one or two airlines.

Having said that, I must say the deregulated era has been more interesting!

User currently offlineAirways6max From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 494 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (12 years 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 5252 times:

Before Deregulation, there were many more choices for the flying public and as a result, air service was better than it is now.

User currently offlineARCJET From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (12 years 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 5253 times:

One of the changes I noticed is the number of connections between different airlines. For example, If you wanted to Fly from Charleston, SC to Honolulu you would fly Delta to Atlanta, connect to another Delta flight to Los Angeles and then take a United flight to Honolulu. The big six carriers all had certain cities and areas to themselves and did not fly to other parts of the country.

If you look at the Delta and Eastern route map from 1976 you will notice that
Eastern flew to Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Omaha, Seattle, Portland, Pittsburgh,
Providence, Richmond, Norfolk, Buffalo, San Antonio, Syracuse, Wilkes Barre, Allentown, Huntsville, Greenville/Spartanburg, Mobile, Tallahassee, Pensacola and Delta did not.

Delta had service to San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Jackson, San Francisco,
Little Rock, Kansas City, Ft Wayne, Oakland, Paducha, Meridian, Shreveport,
Baton Rouge, Beaumont, Springfield MO, Alexandria LA, Dayton, Asheville, Burlington VT, Bangor, Worchester MA, Portland ME and Eastern did not

Both had a large operation at Atlanta which offered numerous connections between both carriers.

You could not fly in 1976 from Atlanta to Albuquerque, Sacramento, Colorado Springs, Honolulu, Des Moines, Wichita, Salt Lake City.

After October 24, 1978 routes changed dramatically, Eastern started to fill up their map with western destinations and Delta filled their holes to the Northeast and West. International Flights from Atlanta to Europe in 1976 consisted of a interchange flight with Delta and Pan Am to Heathrow.

If you wanted to fly to Europe from the Southeast in 1976 it meant connecting in JFK, IAD or MIA. Times have changed.

User currently offlineUltrapig From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 609 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (12 years 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 5221 times:

In the middle 60's when the airlines had gone mostly jet they had lots of capacity which was unused-fares were very simple-so simple in fact that even as late as the 1970's TWA's "city" schedule listed the First class, Y and YN night coah fare-

The thing which introduced many of us then colelge students to flying was half price standby-you got a card for $3. and could fly standby anywhere you wanted. In the three years that I qualifiied I wasonly bumped twice- mainly because load factors were lower.

Excess baggages was $4. a suitcase-and believe it or not I like the airline food even in coach I prefered it to dorm food.

User currently offlineSrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (12 years 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 5184 times:

The airlines actually had service because you may have had several competitors on the same route, and since you all had to charge the same fares on the route (as mandated by the CAB), the only way to entice passengers onto you flights was with the service. Piano bars and lounges on the 747 was on way to make your airline stand out on a route. Hell, putting a 747 on a route against another airlines' DC-8 or 707 really set you apart from the crowd.

User currently offlineElectraBob From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 931 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (12 years 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 5172 times:

Before deregulation, if you had an airline timetable, or a copy of the Official Airline Guide, you knew what the fares were before you even started thinking about buying a ticket. You didn't have hundreds of different fare possibilities between two cities like you have today. Here are a few examples of fares from Detroit taken from the Sept. 1975 OAG (fares are one way/round trip)

Detroit-Chicago...First Class 47.00/94.00....Coach 34.00/68.00

Detroit-New York...First Class 79.00/158.00....Coach 57.00/114.00

Detroit-Los Angeles...First Class 214.00/428.00....Coach 152.00/304.00

Detroit-Honolulu...First Class 357.00/714.00...Coach 230.00/460.00

Detroit-Miami...First Class 137.00/274.00...Coach 98.00/196.00

These fares were the walk up fares....excursion fares with various advance purchase dates and restrictions were also available. Many airlines offered "night coach" flights....night first class was the full coach fare, and night coach was discounted by approx. 20%.

Having a smoking section in a restaurant is like having a peeing section in a swimming pool.....
User currently offlineIMissPiedmont From United States of America, joined May 2001, 6544 posts, RR: 29
Reply 9, posted (12 years 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 5099 times:

And those fares are quite higher than you'll pay today. Consider inflation.

But it was a different world in the 1960s and 1970s. We were treated with respect and you never saw a passenger in shorts, flip-flops and a tank top. And most had taken a bath that same day.

The day you stop learning is the day you should die.
User currently offlineCoronado990 From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 1675 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 5079 times:

One thing I liked was that you could string airlines together on a single fare. I once flew in the early seventies one-way from SFO-SAN and instead of taking a non-stop for $25 bucks or so, I took a UA 737 from SFO-MOD-SCK, hung out in SCK for a few hours, hopped on a Hughes Air West F-27 and flew to LAX via SMX (Santa Maria) and, then, my favorite of them all, a DL D8S from LAX-SAN. It took all day but it sure was fun! And all for $25 dollars!

But what was better than before deregulation was the time I remember before security when the airport was yours to explore.

Uncle SAN at your service!
User currently offlineM404 From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 2258 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (12 years 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 5060 times:
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Regulation was defacto governance of routes. Subsidy provided the service to smaller destinations. Now that same subsidy is more indirect such as what's left of the Essential Air Services bill. It still comes out of the taxpayers wallet whether he uses the services or not as a healthy air network, as in small town access, is deemed a necessity to that towns economy. We lost much bus service - no subsidy. Train service is a joke by geography and lack of commitment. Now smaller towns have more service than ever with Express type regional agreements. How? Guess what, it's still subsidy. Look at the fare structures and flow through revenues of hub type routes.

Population is the biggest difference. Before, markets were divided by economic viability via government route grants. Now that the number of "souls on board" the planet have increased by probably 100% since deregulation those same routes are open to whomever if no capacity restraints (airport restrictions) apply. More routes COULD be profitable but not with the market dictating the rates charge. The effort to find the miniscule profit brought on my too much competition has made the service we became used to a thing of the past. Airline travel is now simply a mass transit station complete with the stinky lavs.

The difference between the LCCs and the Legacies is twofold. Legacies have baggage left over from regulation like the fare structure, retirement plans, employee insurance, and union gained livable wages and decades of living in an economic reality of a really good year having maybe a four percent return on investment. Name another industry with the output necessary the size of the airlines with a good year being only four percent. That over a long time with many years that did not have any profits or far less than four percent and the debt/loans necessary to sustain in between in a industry that both the government and the carriers could not decide whether is was a public necessity of a luxury and you have the mess that's here now.

Less sarcasm and more thought equal better understanding
User currently offlineOrd From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 1399 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (12 years 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 5006 times:

"Before Deregulation, there were many more choices for the flying public and as a result, air service was better than it is now."

This is not true. There are far more airlines today than there were prior to deregulation. Also, before deregulation something like 20% of air routes in the U.S. had more than two competitors on a route. Today that percentage is around 80% (when you factor in connections). So the options for a traveler today are far greater. I'm not saying deregulation is good or bad, and of course in-flight service is poorer, but there are defintely more choices today.

User currently offlineZrs70 From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 3525 posts, RR: 8
Reply 13, posted (12 years 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 4964 times:


I'm interested in a comparison between how many US carriers there are today, and how many there were before 1978. I don't know the answer, but I am skeptical that your statement is accurate!

17 year airliners.net vet! 2000-2016
User currently offlineDucker From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 137 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (12 years 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 4940 times:

I remember a bit the days before deregulation and have a couple of examples of the lunacy of govt. regulated routes.
1) My airport is Hartford/Bradley. and I flew often between Hartford-Pittsburgh. What was interesting, Allegheny had 4 DC-9's to PIT, but all 4 Pittsburgh flights actually originated at Providence, and since PVD did not have nonstop authority to the Steel City, all the PVD-PIT flights had to stop at Bradley. It is about 67 air miles, a waste of fuel and time
2) Delta acquired Northeast ('Yellowbirds') in 1972. However, DL couldn'tI flew AL . I remember that after Delta couldn't fly from Hartford Boston to Atlanta, since Eastern only had that route authority. From Bradley, Delta could only fly 1-stop to ATL, since when they acquired the NE routes, DL could only fly thoe routes. So all flights stopped at JFK, EWR, PHL and BWI (old NE routes) before ATL. Eastern 'owned' the Hartford-Atlanta route. That changed in Dec., 1978 when after dereg, Delta began operating non-stop to ATL.

Does anyone know of any publications that might chronicle the lunacy of CAB route awards? This would be interesting. I think the Trans-Pacific route which awarded Hawaii to BN, WA, CO, and NW in 1969 took something like 5 years to be awarded, and since political considerations entered into the award process, graft, favors or whatever surely entered into the process as well.

User currently offlineSpoon04 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 180 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (12 years 1 week 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 4872 times:

Well, the way I look at it, airlines now are nothing more than Greyhound busses with wings. And I guess with the inevitable demise of Amtrak (sooner or later), commercial aviation will undoubtably be the only way to move the masses from Point A to Point B (if it isn't that already). However, with that being said, I remember very fondly how luxurious air travel was in the sixties and early seventies (prior to deregulation) - and even AFTER deregulation. For those too young to have experienced the wonderful ambiance of piston-powered and early jet travel, the service, the food, the entire flavour of commercial air travel was just lavish in every respect. The DC-7's, Super Constellations, Stratocruisers, Electras, Viscounts, and early variants of 707's and DC-8's.... As a young person who lived in Houston in my teens, I had the privilege of flying Continental "Golden Jets" to the West Coast, Braniff to Chicago and Miami, and Delta DC-8's and CV-880's to Atlanta and points to the Southeast. My God, that was a wonderful era in commercial air travel. I can even remember a Continental flight from Hobby Airport to LAX on a 707 where in First Class the F/A came down the aisle with freshly-carved prime rib. Alas, now it's a miniature bag of stale pretzels.

User currently offline7E72004 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3587 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (12 years 1 week 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 4852 times:

the only thing i know is i cannot imagine having to get dressed up for a flight...whenever i fly i like the good 'ol jeans and shirt...i like to be comfortable  Big thumbs up

The next generation of aircraft is just around the corner!
User currently offlineSpoon04 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 180 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (12 years 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4792 times:

7E, I totally relate to your desired attire for present day air travel. However, keep in mind that back in "those days", NO ONE EVER wore anything but the most "appropriate" attire for air travel. As a matter of fact, back in the sixties and seventies, jeans and a shirt were reserved for mowing the lawn. But times change.

User currently offlineWearyBizTrvlr From Netherlands, joined May 2004, 58 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (12 years 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4808 times:

Using ElectraBob's 1975 fares in reply #8, I thought it would be interesting to see how those fares compare in real terms (i.e. inflation-adjusted) to today's. Cumulative CPI inflation since 1975 has put a factor of 3.5 of prices based on this inflation calculator. It only goes to 2002, so one should probably add another 2.5% in cumulative inflation to that, giving a factor of 3.6.

That's not the only effect though. Incomes have risen in real terms since 1975 too. Real per capita GDP increased 75% and real disposable personal income rose 62.5%. To keep the estimates conservative, I'll use the latter.

To keep things simple, I'll only list the economy round trip prices. The numbers are respectively the 1975 nominal price, the 1975 price adjusted for inflation and the 1975 price adjusted for inflation and income growth. Finally, I looked up round-trip prices on Orbitz, and listed the cheapest one below for departure June 4th and return June 11th. I made no further attempts to find cheaper fares. The last two numbers show the factor between 1975 prices (adjusted for inflation, then inflation and income) and today's.

DTW-CHI: $68 ... $245 ... $397 ... $122 ... 2.0 ... 3.3
DTW-NYC: $114 ... $410 ... $666 ... $184 ... 2.2 ... 3.6
DTW-LAX: $304 ... $1093 ... $1777 ... $235 ... 4.7 ... 7.6
DTW-HNL: $460 ... $1655 ... $2689 ... $889 ... 1.9 ... 3.0
DTW-MIA: $196 ... $705 ... $1146 ... $192 ... 3.7 ... 6.0

Adjusting only for inflation, today's fares for CHI, NYC and HNL are about half the cost of those in 1976. The MIA and LAX flights are just a fraction of the cost back then, with LAX coming in at about one fifth. Adjusting for income growth, today's fares are even lower.

These results are not all that surprising, and are certainly not a comprehensive study of the issue. I suspect they will be fairly typical though. The choice of DTW for the starting point may also skew the results, as it is a major NW hub now; I have no idea what kinds of connections it used to have in 1976. And as others have mentioned before, there is a massive array of possible fares today with various rules, so that makes the comparison even more complex.

Although I have not flown in pre-deregulation US skies, the comments here also point to a deterioration in service since then. So in that sense, you are getting less value for your money than in 1976. You could always fly first class instead of coach though. The inflation-adjusted coach to LAX is $1093, while today you'd pay $1434 for NW F-class. It'd be interesting to see prices from the heyday of classic aviation that Spoon04 waxed nostalgic about in reply #16.

Much as I would like to have experienced that, those days are not coming back. Despite the depredations of today's cattle-class travel, on balance I'd rather have cheap and plentiful fares of today. All we need now are faster planes.  Smile

Trudging around the world from AMS
User currently offline7E72004 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3587 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (12 years 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4731 times:

weren't there two "lccs" that started after deregulation and survived for a while? I think one was Midway but cannot think of the other.

The next generation of aircraft is just around the corner!
User currently offlineIMissPiedmont From United States of America, joined May 2001, 6544 posts, RR: 29
Reply 20, posted (12 years 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 4711 times:

Jeans and a clean shirt were quite acceptable in th 60s and 70s. Grubby shorts, flip flops and tank-tops were not.

And 7E72004, I cannot think of any other failed semi-large airline since 1979 either.

The day you stop learning is the day you should die.
User currently offlineRogerThat From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 566 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (12 years 1 week 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 4697 times:

7E72004 - I believe the other post deregulation LCC you are thinking of is America West. As I recall, they offered good value for the money and had a young and happy workforce.

User currently offline4jaded From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 248 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (12 years 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 4643 times:

My memories of the regulation days vs today are as follows.

First flying was a true "experience". Due to the price not everyone could fly.
There was no Greyhound Bus crowd mentality at the airport or onboard.
No one I knew ever even went to the airport to pick up a passenger let alone fly on a plane without dressing up. When you flew you always wore your "Sunday Best" and were always on your "Best Behavior" or used " Church Manners".
Everything got stamped ! All the Airlines had these validation stamp machines that the agents would smack really hard! They stamped "everything". You were never really on your way until you heard that smack a few times.
Today flight attendants are "here primarily for your safety" back then the flight attendants were there primarily for your comfort. While the basic job has always been a mix of both the focus in those days was on the service and comfort and less about being "hall monitors".
You always got fed in those days. Unless the flight was very very short you always had a meal. Some were better than others and by today's standards they were "heavy ,full of grease, and always smothered in gravy". But it was rare to not get fed or for the flight to "run out of food". It seemed like in those days the flights were always catered to survive being stranded at the North Pole for a week.
There was a Glamour back in that day attatched to working for an airline. No matter if you were a pilot, flight attendant, ticket agent, or whatever you were special. Airline employees were seen as cultured and worldly.
Multiple stop flights /same plane/ were much more common. For example in order to travel from Melbourne FL. To Los Angeles Ca. You had two choices
you could fly National Airlines with stops at TPA and MSY for example or Eastern with a plane change at ATL. Delta had nonstops LAX to ATL on an L1011 or a 4 stop service on a 727. No matter what flight you were on the price was the same.
There was much more to see at the airport back in those days.
Today the planes are starting to look very similar, 737,757,767,777 , A300,A319, A320,A321,A330, 7E7 etc two engines slung under the wing with a "standard tail" back in the old days you had Commets,Caravelle, VC10's, DC-8's, L1011's 727, etc so T tails and "standard tail" aircraft as well as variations were all very common. Some spotters used to "count the tail types at a given moment and compare to see which design was most popular". Planes looked distinctive as opposed to all looking similar.
Travel Agents were a must back in those days. They were the experts who could get you from point A to Point B via points C,D,E, and F and the three carriers it took to get you there. Using multiple carriers was much more common in those days as well.
Strikes by the Unions were also much more commonplace. Airlines were always being shut down for days, weeks and sometimes months over labor disputes. It was always "Headline News" on TV. National Airlines was a common strike grounded airline and got the nickname King Cobra Airlines as they would " strike at anything".
AAAhhhh the good old days  Smile

User currently onlineMasseyBrown From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 6146 posts, RR: 7
Reply 23, posted (12 years 1 week 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 4575 times:

Regarding dressing on airplanes, a jacket and tie were the usual dress for most non-athletic public functions, not just flying. It's the "comfortable" part I don't understand. If a jacket and tie aren't comfortable, it's because they don't fit right. Now women's clothes are a different matter - they ARE designed for torture- then and (according to my wife) now.

The best time to plant a tree is today. The second best time is tomorrow.
User currently offlineUpsmd11 From United States of America, joined May 2003, 823 posts, RR: 4
Reply 24, posted (12 years 1 week 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 4524 times:

I totally agree Massey. I, too, think you should dress appropriate for events. I tell my two boys that even the NBA stars the idolize dress up for events. My kids want to wear basketball clothes to every function. On a cruise last year they looked like they were ready to play basketball at every function. It was like pulling teeth to get them into nice clothes for the flights to MIA and the nice dinners. But it is a different era.

Also, I definitely think that clothes that fit, khakis, nice pants, a crisp dress shirt and a sport coat look nicer and are more comfortable than jeans and a t-shirt. I'm flying to ATL on Monday and will definitely not be in jeans and when we go to MAD and LIS this summer I'll be dressed very appropriate for the business class ticket I have.

The people in jeans dont' bother me at all, just like to do my own thing. But think the "comfortable" thing is a cop of of sorts. Just say that's what you like to do and be done with it.


25 Sprxflyswa : As far as better air service PRIOR to dereg, in Boise here it is many times better now. In the late 1970's, United had around 16 nonstop flights to:
26 Mrniji : All you pro-deregulation types need to go back to Russia. My god, you and your highly unqualified, unelaborated hate-creating and childish statements.
27 TxAgKuwait : >>My god, you and your highly unqualified, unelaborated hate-creating and childish statements. I am only waiting till airliners.net introduces the pre
28 Post contains images Mrniji : I don't see any post from a ssides here... What are tou takling about? OK, there was one (that is where my citation in the post before was from). But
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