Some of you reading this article may be seniors. Remember there can be some very attractive cheap flights on offer to you in your silver and golden years. You will be old enough to remember what it used to be like or, for those of you with richer parents and grandparents, there will be stories from the earliest years of powered flights. Not to put too fine a point on it, the first sixty or seventy years were positively dangerous. We're used to aircraft being the safest form of public transport with the fewest number of fatalities per passenger mile. But when they were just starting out, engines would fail and, in the wrong conditions, there would be damage to the wings or control surfaces. If you were lucky, the landing was a controlled crash. If you were unlucky, the chances of walking away were small. Yet flying was the glamorous way to travel. Mostly, it was the preserve of the rich and the reckless who huddled together in the noisy and vibrating cabins as the plane slowly made its way in the direction of the stated destination.
Only in more recent years have the cabins been pressurized and soundproofed. Now we can look out of the windows and not be frightened by seeing the wings flexing up and down as we might expect in a bird. Yet, for all there's been an improvement in the general level of comfort, the seats remain uncomfortable in the general cabin area, there's very little leg room, and sleeping is difficult on long hauls. Yet this is the price we willingly pay for cheap flights. If we don't want airlines to charge higher rates, we have to tolerate them cramming more seats into the same space to make their profit from passenger volume. And talking of volume, the rise in the number of people who are overweight is making the seats even more uncomfortable for everyone. So here's the big decision for you. Is price so important you will always prefer cheap flights no matter how uncomfortable? Or will there come a point when you will pay a little more to be comfortable?