Earlier decades are often portrayed as golden times for air travel, partly because the experience was more luxurious than it is these days – unless you pay for first class. People travel by plane more often now than they did prior to the 1980s, and one of the changes this has led to is that doing so feels less special. Whereas in earlier eras air travel was an exciting experience which people actually dressed up for, now it is simply a way to get to your destination.
2 Much cheaper
Two major innovations helped to make air travel cheaper. Firstly, economy class was introduced by the major airlines giving those who wanted or needed to fly a way to do so at a lower cost – albeit at a lower comfort level. Secondly, the emergence of budget airlines reduced the prices even more and meant that any of us could travel to anywhere in the world at low prices.
3 More entertainment
The air travel of today offers us greater choice of in-flight entertainment in comparison to previous eras. The digital age has allowed us to take devices such as iPads and phones with games and music apps with us when we travel, while the planes themselves now routinely offer movies and Wi-Fi. There are currently plans to introduce casino lounges to airplanes as well, although they remain at the drawing board stage.
4 Shorter flights
The planes of today move at much faster speeds than in the past, which means that even lengthy journeys are quicker. It is standard for planes to reach speeds of 500 mph now, but in the past only a few were capable of that, making journeys last hours longer. Air travel also took more time in previous eras due to the less sophisticated air traffic system that often meant having to change flights and endure long layovers.
5 Smoking and drinking
One major change in air travel during the past few decades that will have delighted some and frustrated others, is that smoking and drinking on board are now much rarer. Smoking bans began to be phased out during the 1990s and this restriction became the rule across all airlines by the end of that decade. Drinking on a plane is not banned, but you can face criminal charges if you get drunk during a flight, which means passengers consume much less alcohol on average compared with earlier generations.
Air travel has improved in many ways over the last twenty years, but offering passengers greater leg room on board would be a way of ensuring journeys are more comfortable than they often are just now.