The employees of the various bankrupt passenger airlines continue to lose pensions, take huge pay cuts, and agree to spend as little one week per month in the same city with their families. They're doing all of this in an effort to save their companies and careers. It's admirable. And it won't work. The US passenger airline industry has reached a strange, psychotic place. No one charges anywhere near what the real value of an airline ticket is. Most don't even charge what it costs to provide the service. The employees can't fix this problem no matter how little they are willing to be paid.
The psychosis extends to airline travelers, too. This morning I sat next to a gentleman on a flight who complained continuously about how much fares had gone up recently. He was upset that he couldn't get a round trip ticket from the midwest to LA for less than $280, and that price involved the inconvenience of a stop on the way. I nodded in sympathy and kept my mouth shut. Afterwards, I thought about some research to try to determine what the real value of such a ticket would be. A place to start would be one of the express freight operators, so I went to Fedex.com. Here is what I found:
To send a 200 pound palletized package from the midwest to LAX, round trip, with fuel surcharge included, would cost $1643.48. This is for a 200 pound, inanimate object. It is not your child, mother, husband or lover.
To send your child, mother, husband or lover, with all of their baggage on the same round trip, non-stop with no advance purchase and no Saturday night stay--in other words, the most expensive way to buy a ticket---would cost as little as $440.99, or as much as $809.00, depending on the flights you choose. Let's take the average:
One fare is for 200 pounds of dead, inanimate freight. One fare is for living, breathing people that you care about. Explain to me how this makes sense. Tomorrow, we can look at what it would cost to drive your car on the same trip. I'll tell you in advance that the results will be similar.