It is among the most classically joked about modern grievances, air travel.
Between flight cancellations, delays, lost baggage, increased prices, crammed planes, and the general downtrodden gloom that accompanies flying, there is plenty left to be desired when it comes to the quality of airline service.
The truth is that bankruptcies and mergers have meant that competition has come to a critical ebb. In his new book, Why Flying is Miserable, policy entrepreneur and law professor, Ganesh Sitaraman, identifies the core issues in aviation as he sees them. He points out that the lone four, too-big-to-fail airlines, still are failing to offer reliable services even after receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts during the pandemic.
Sitaraman explains how the 1978 experiment in deregulating airlines ultimately turned out to be the cause of our current discontent. What resulted from deregulation was consolidation, higher prices, loss of service to smaller communities, fewer direct flights, and a more miserable experience overall. But perhaps it’s not all cloudy skies ahead. Sitaraman expresses hope in abandoning the old systems of regulation, instead choosing to learn from the American tradition of regulated capitalism. The entrepreneur champions new solutions with the aim of increasing the reliability and resiliency of commercial air travel.
Come to Town Hall where we can all complain about air travel together! But stick around for expert Ganesh Sitaraman to offer some words of consolation, and deliver actionable plans to better the experience of air travel in the future.
Ganesh Sitaraman is a law professor at Vanderbilt Law School and the director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Political Economy and Regulation. He is the author of several books, including The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution and The Great Democracy. Sitaraman serves on the board of The American Prospect, and is a member of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee. He was previously a senior advisor to Senator Elizabeth Warren on her presidential campaign. He lives in Nashville.
Paul Constant has written about books, economics, and politics for The Seattle Times, Business Insider, the New York Observer, the LA Times, and many other publications. He is a fellow at Civic Ventures, a public policy incubator in Seattle, and contributes to the Pitchfork Economics podcast.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.