This short article from Business Insider seems to suggest we as travelers are getting exactly what we want. From the article:
The reason flying is the way it is is because that’s exactly what today’s fliers want.
Specifically, fliers want:
- Safe, rapid travel between two cities
- The lowest possible price
Oh, sure, people who fly won’t say that they’re getting what they want — because then they would reveal themselves to be cheap bastards who care mostly about price.
While it is true that travelers are getting low priced, relatively fast transportation between cities, the amenities that used to be offered on the same flights have been eroded to keep the price low.
I think what travelers want has changed a little in recent years and the above list needs to be amended to include power ports and internet connectivity. These two items have become even more important travelers over the last few years and most of the airlines are just now getting these things installed or playing catch up figuring out how to do so. I would also add “cleanliness” to the list. My last few flights on United have been on planes that were absolutely filthy and it was not a pleasant experience.
Are travelers willing to pay more for a better experience in flight? Based on Delta and United reconfiguring a number of aircraft to remove economy seats that have extra legroom and replace them with regular economy seats, my guess is no. There is a small segment of the traveling public that is willing to pay for more amenities but most just want a seat between two cities.