Older generations who are still young enough to travel and fly frequently might be lamenting about the state of travel these days. Seats are smaller, service isn’t what it used to be, the elegance of air travel is dead. This might be one point of view. However, we would like to assert that this is a new golden age for aviation. Here’s why…
The first golden age
To assert that we are in a new golden age of air travel we should first define the first golden age. As we mention in a previous article, the golden age we are all most familiar with was characterized by new cabin designs and longer flights.
It was a time when air travel had become more comfortable and was finally able to connect major cities of the world with just one or two flights. This air travel was still only restricted to the wealthiest of our society.
It’s true – what some think of as the golden age still had separate upper and lower classes. But even economy class still meant amazing service and full meals.
How the golden age died
That golden age was in decline after the holiday boom of the 1970s and really came to a halt once low-cost carriers came on to the scene. With more competition on the scene, legacy carriers needed to make some big cuts to keep their prices looking competitive and that trend of “unbundling” services has continued ever since.
Nowadays everyone can fly. While some might say that is an overall good thing, others may argue that the elegance and refinement of air travel have vanished. Nowadays we have to share cramped economy class cabins with drunken, abusive passengers, where you might be at risk of someone’s popped blister ruining your journey. Maybe the passenger in the seat next to you has decided to give himself a haircut. There are many things that have definitively degraded the excitement of the flying experience.
Why we are in a new golden age
But many new and exciting things have happened in recent times that can lead one to believe a new golden age is upon us. As with the first golden age, new cabin designs and longer flights certainly make the headlines these days.
For flights, we have services like Singapore Airlines’ Newark Liberty to Singapore Changi service. Touted as the world’s longest flight, the premium-economy-only service lasts an outrageous 19+ hours and offers the premium service many have come to know and love from Singapore Airlines. Qantas will eventually have its London to Sydney service – named Project Sunrise but we might have to wait a little longer before that is a reality.
As for new cabin designs – some of the most innovative cabins out there have been pioneered by carriers in the Middle East. Made possible by the Airbus A380, there are now airlines that have onboard showers and full ‘first-class apartment’ suites.
Even without the most luxurious options, almost all long-haul legacy carriers offer full lie-flat seats in business class – something that wasn’t available in the early years of commercial air travel. Heck – even some economy services aren’t too bad if you get a good deal on a good route on the right airline!
Yes – budget carriers and cramped economy cabins have certainly made air travel a little less ‘golden’. You may have to pay for that extra piece of luggage and deal with an annoying neighbor. However, there is still much to be excited about in air travel today.
Do you think we’re in a new golden age of air travel? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!