Airline travel has become "cheap" because that is what the passengers want. When they ask for the losest possible fare, irregardless of the level of service, that's just what the pax get. I think that it's unfair to demand a pitch of 36" when one only pays $300 to go to Europe. I also think it's unfair for an airline to charge $1800 for that same seat just because someone had to leave at the last minute, without knowing ahead of time.
This general cheapening, whether it be in food quality or seat comfort, is the product of comsumer demand. As for the staff on airlines, I've never had any problem with one them. I work in customer service, so I know that there is a way that things are done, in any business. I have no right to complain when I don't get a meal, esp when I knew before I booked the ticket that there was no meal. My generally pleasant experiences I think, are a direct result of my understanding that these men and women are just doing thier jobs. If I got treated half as bad as FA's do in my job, I would be without speech. I'm constantly amazed at how I see other pax treat FA's, as though they deserve some kind of special treatment.
You'll get the service you would expect from this industry if and only if you show the respect, restraint and willingness to cooperate that you should be expected to show on an airplane. Remember, you usually get what you put into things, and a simple smile is worth more than all the bitching in the world, both to the FA's and to your own general attitude of an event. Next time you have a choice of meals, tell the FA to give you whatever he or she has more of. You'll see what I'm talking about.