The path to mega profit was clear. Competition would be halted, leaving a handful of airlines to provide public transit for a third of a billion people. The airlines would then be free to collude, confederate and agree to constrict the number of available seats, thus restraining any pressure to give the cash strapped American public affordable air transit. The algorithim would be king, with no worries beyond this quarter’s profits. If a thousand people needed to go somewhere on Tuesday, and you impose collective restraints to provide 600 seats, well the sky was literally the limit. So confident were the airlines that people had no choice, that they declared war on even the highest paying passengers. In the wake of the appearance of new hedge fund and private equity-owned airline CEO’s every step was taken to degrade the air experience, jam more seats in, rip out toilets, always, always giving less for more. Loyalty programs were destroyed, all hopes placed on a constant passenger churn in a continental nation that must fly. So what the boarding process takes forever, passengers fight for seats and flight attendants function as bouncers on packed planes, throwing people out of seats they haven’t purchased even if they are the highest spenders. When you give your credit card over to the airlines, they will take the money and you almost surely will never see it again no matter what-no waivers, no favors. Travellers have to lay down their money a third of a year in advance tlo take a flight that might be grievously late or might not even take off-if it does they are seated on a dangerously packed plane, yearning to get off even on a 45 minute flight before some body part sustains a permanent injury. A request to fly even 45 minutes earlier requires passengers to pay-while airline misconnects, cancellations and seven hour delays are blamed on the government, ATC, extra terrestrials-anything but them Now the WSJ is reporting (see August 20th) that even with $40 a barrel of oil, the air industry might still go down the tubes. Why? Well, when you are completely untrustworthy, when you have treated your passengers with staggering comtempt and brutality, when you have deliberately engineered travel as ordeal, it now seems that millions of Americans are and will increasingly continue to pass on the abominable rip off that American air travel has become.