From Passenger Run-Ins To No-Frills Fares, A Look At The Airline Industry

May 17, 2017

Credit David T. Foster, III / The Charlotte Observer

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Air travel has become increasingly unpleasant, with crowded planes and fewer amenities.  And then there are those viral videos of hostile encounters with passengers. Mike Collins and two airline industry watchers discuss the state of air travel.

The fasten-seat-belt sign remains lit for the country's airlines. A string of videos, from a violent encounter with a United Airlines passenger to a melee at a Spirit Airlines ticket counter, have created turbulence for the carriers.

Washington has taken notice, just as another summer travel season prepares for takeoff. Executives of four airlines, including the beleaguered United, were taken to the woodshed this month at congressional hearings. Lawmakers warned the airlines to get their houses in order, or Washington would step in.

Are these high-profile conflicts with passengers a symptom of problems in the industry? Or are they exceptions to the norm? Should passengers have a “bill of rights,” as some lawmakers have suggested?

Credit Robert Lahser / The Charlotte Observer

Meanwhile, American Airlines, Charlotte’s dominant carrier and sixth-largest employer, has rolled out "basic economy" fares to compete with low-cost airlines, creating new fees for features that were once basic amenities. And American says its new planes will have more seats, but smaller space.

Two veteran airline industry watchers share their thoughts on the friendly, or not-so-friendly, skies.

GUESTS

Seth Kaplan, Airline Weekly, managing partner (@Airline_Weekly)

Ted Reed, covers airline industry for Forbes and The Street (@tedreednc)

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