hmmm... I flew many of your "crappy" airlines.... I happened to have flown and like most of them;
-Aerolineas Internacionales ; although they have old but faithful 727s, cheaper service than overpriced AM and MX on (selected) domestic flights. Friendly service, no meals but lots of booze ! (flew Mexico-Aguascalientes in 2000)
- AirTran; cheap, fun service, they can bring you from/to everywhere in eastern US for less than $100, which other airline can claim that? I flew five flights with them, not for nothing
- Aer Arann was OK on Dublin-Sligo. Well... in a spring storm at least we arrived in one piece in the shaken' and stirred Short 360. Roundtrip was only 50 IP or so...
- United ; flew many many flights. The US domestic airline who give nice meals on flights (like DEN-SFO or FLL-ORD) when their competitors don't.
So my message is that everyone's taste differs, we can't agree on airlines everyone hates... I love classic aircraft so thumbs up for airlines which I haven't flown, like Rich (last airline to fly passenger DC-8), Tower (one of the last flying passenger 747-100s) etc. too...
nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?