Paris to New York in 1953: “This says it all”

Paris to New York 1953If you’ve ever wondered how we ended up here, with sub-standard airline service, angry passengers and disgruntled employees, here’s something to consider. It’s a receipt for a Trans World Airlines flight from Paris to New York — in 1953.

“I dug this out after reading Bob Herbst’s piece yesterday,” says reader and former airline employee Jerry Castellano. “This says it all. No wonder airlines are in the dumpster.”

Castellano’s mother paid $295 for the flight. A deal, right? Yes, until you do the math.

He explains:

Adjusted for inflation, that one way ticket would today cost $2,388.

I brought my family to Italy this past summer and our tickets roundtrip from St. Louis to Rome were about $800.

Running that through an inflation calculator would price the 1953 ticket at just over $100

So what’s the problem? The business model is messed up.

I often point out to people that when I first joined Ozark Air Lines in 1978, if our system wide load factor was North of 55 percent, we were profitable. Bob Herbst could probably give you much more accurate information regarding load factor and yields.

There’s a paragraph in Airframe by Michael Crichton where one character mentions how startup carriers were in essence pyramid schemes. I saw a lot of this as at TWA we did a lot of contract training for these startups that had limited lives.

He’s right. This says it all.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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