I agree with much of what you say - except for one thing. I'm not yet convinced that "cheap" is the driving force behind all fare purchases.
In the case of Frontier, they are sometimes more expensive (by a few bucks) than the competing majors - yet people seem happy to pay the difference.
I think it is more a case of "perceived value for money."
But you raise an interesting concept. In show business there's an old rule - your core audience is your meat and potatoes, anything else is gravy.
In other words, not all airlines can be all things to all people. Southwest has succeeded because it has never attempted to be all things to all people. They have often said, publicly, that there are people who will never fly Southwest - even if the fares were a buck - so why chase them?
(I think, from another post, that you're one of those. Yes? No?)
The majors/legacy carriers (what you will) seem determined that they can be all things to all people - thus we get TED.
But TED isn't where the money is - TED is where the market share is. The money is at the high end.
Some people claim that the "high end" market has gone away, never to return, but I wouldn't tell that to Singapore, or Qantas, or Virgin - it's a long list.
For example, both UAL and AMR have been dragged, kicking and screaming, to provide sleeper seats/suites on the high end trans-ocean flights, but the only reason they introduced them is because the competition got there first.
So I agree with you. When the legacy carriers offerme better "perceived value" for my money, then I'll fly 'em. Until then, I won't.
As a ps: if you're not in good profit with yoiur HP
shares, when did you buy them? if you had bought HP
at any time within the two years, you'd have made a bundle by now.
Thus, I'm guessing you've owned them since well before 9/11?