Bullish on Airlines

My parents divorced in 1981 and moved to opposite ends of the country, so I spent a lot of time on airplanes as a child. I was what was known as an unaccompanied minor, being shuttled between airport lounges at a time when parents didn't think too much about entrusting their child to fly across the country under the supervision of complete strangers. This got expensive for them: I clearly recall that a New York to Los Angeles plane ticket cost in excess of $700 -- a hell of a lot of money in the early 1980s, by any measure.

The airlines were not yet deregulated, and, believe it or not, these private companies were told by the government what they could charge on a particular route. The price was $700, no matter what airline you flew. So how do airlines compete with each other when they are all compelled by law to charge the same thing? As it turns out, they compete on service. That's why flying was so awesome back then. Lots of food, friendly flight attendants, movies, music -- all free. And now look at the state of things: You get charged for your bags and food, and then they try to sell you credit cards before you land....410 more words left in this article. To read them, just click below and try Real Money FREE for 14 days.

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