|I can't believe they ever thought of this|
|Look at all the leg room|
|That is a party in the skies|
This is relevant because it ties into so many other problems that government intervention and the push to democratize everything has created. Flying became a low cost competition because of the race to capture the new, less wealthy consumer. Similar to the problem of the lowest common denominator airlines chased after the newest potential buyer, not the club member who earned their way in. Democratizing goods and services forced an appeal to the marginal man, and the marginal man was just a loan away from buying. Sales volume became a focus, so "how do you get more in?" became the pressing question, not "how do you make the flying experience so wonderful for the limited pool of flyers?" This goes for education and home ownership, too. Get that marginal consumer with loans, just find a way to reach him, not the pool that reached the hurdle to consume. Who told us opening up the skies to all was better than keeping it a club? Our government mandarins.
Customers can still get leg room and even alcohol for free, but you have to pay first class. Join an airline linked credit card, and you can enjoy some benefits of old. It is not the same. Even the cache or exoticness of the mile high club is gone. Alvin Toffler wrote in Futureshock about the idea of selling experience modifiers as a wave of the future. Others like him expected the concept of making something special being a future for economic activity. It has not happened. Air travel would seem a perfect fit. People would love a sexy lounge feeling for flights and more leg room, but there just is no money to be made for a producer for those features. Say HIV never happens. In our hedonistic times, a singles airline like Plato's Retreat in the skies would have done well. The other weird effect is a security side. Lower the barrier to entry for consumers enough, and disgruntled Arab terrorists can blend in better. They will look no different than the annoyed, and most likely peeved, travelers streaming onto flights by the millions. Deregulation is another example where democratization helps homo economicus bare his soul, and it is a blank soul.