The air travel experience has changed over the past 10-15 years. Some of the changes have been very good while others are disturbing.
Flight Reservations: It was not that long ago, one had to use a travel agent to compare flight costs among the various carriers. Once a decision on a flight was made, you had to wait for the tickets to arrive in the mail or go to the travel agent’s office to pick them up. If you lost your tickets, you had to pay another fee for a new set to be printed.
Over time, this process has evolved from using individual carrier web sites to consolidated travel sites that all but replaced the travel agent for carrier comparison. Today, you can book an entire trip on-line (air, hotel and transportation). There are also a myriad of options most of which are available on one’s smart phone. The days of printed tickets are gone with apps storing boarding passes.
All Aboard!: I think that this aspect has changed the most and for the worst. Who can remember when you would take your ticket, maybe have to show your ID then proceed through security. A security screen consisted of putting your bags through a scanner and walking through a metal detector. There was no removing liquids from your bag and you could bring a gallon of shampoo if you wanted! You did not have to remove belts, shoes, or anything other than thick metal that would set off the detector. Today, you are practically stripped naked to go through screening due to the imaging equipment used. Yes, the government screeners can see your private parts.
Even boarding the flight is highly controlled. Get in line, by your boarding group number or else! They used to board from back to front – it was much faster and more orderly folks.
In the Air: Do you feel packed in the plane like a piece of meat. It is not surprising. Shorter distances between seats make the feeling somewhat claustrophobic! Remember when everyone got something hot to eat? Even coach fliers used to get a hot sandwich. Today, you are lucky to get an ever-shrinking sized bag of some mixed snack. I have not seen real peanuts in a while – are they too expensive? You can pay for the latest junk food if you want it. It will cost you though. Where else are you going to go to curb your hunger strapped in at 38,000 ft.?
The Exit: Getting off the plane has pretty much not changed. I will note that on virtually all flights, the crew thanks me for my patronage.