People like to complain about flying -- cramped seats, lousy food, deep-vein thrombosis. But pilot Patrick Smith makes a good point:
On a plane in the 1930s or 1940s, of course, you'd have had a big fat reclining chair, a sleeping berth, five-course meals served by a tuxedoed steward, and maybe an onboard lounge where you could sit and read the New York Times. But in 1939 aboard Pan Am's Dixie Clipper, it cost $375 to fly each way between New York and France.
The one-way flight, before jets, took a whole day too, not six hours as it does now. Smith is also talking about 1939 dollars -- $750 round trip, U.S. funds. In those days, the average income for an entire U.S. family was between $2000 and $3000, for the whole year. In today's terms, a round-trip cross-Atlantic plane ticket should therefore cost about $10,000 U.S. Even the Concorde only costs about $7000 U.S. for that trip, and it's both luxurious and twice as fast again as a regular jet.
I still love to fly, and when I get the chance, I don't complain. Well, except for that time the whole band got airsick in turbulence on the first leg of our trip to Australia in 1995. But then we cursed the weather, not the airline; the flight attendants were just as green in the face as we were.