"Should you pay more to fly?" Readers respond...

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Dozens of readers commented on our recent blog post "Should you pay more to fly?" We thank everyone for their especially insightful comments on this topic.

Here are some notable comments, edited for space and clarity.

Don't kid yourself about correlations between higher fares and improved service. As long as the Airline Pilots Association controls the major airlines, a disproportionate percent of any fare increase will end up in their pockets.—Kenneth

Why is it that the smaller airlines in the UK and Ireland can offer really good prices and service for a lot less than we are paying here in the US? Seems to me their petrol costs are much higher than ours...—SLR.

First you cannot compare USA carriers to International Airlines such as BA or Virgin. Many of these airlines are government subsidized. Even if the airline is isn't government subsidized many these carriers do not share in the the cost of airport gates and security costs.—ERY

Absolutely not! We shouldn't pay more. An airline like Northwest can declare bankruptcy, get protection, cut its employees wages, refuse to pay its bills, but still be able to take over other airlines. They reduce service, make no pretense at civility, and we should pay more money for that? It's time instead to demand an end to million dollar perks for predatory executives.—Daniel J. Vandeberg

With record high fuel prices airlines must pay, I believe it is necessary to pass this cost along, so that US carriers may have the dollars to properly maintain their fleets. We either need to somehow bring down the price of fuel, or pay more for everything else. Air travel is no exception. It must be kept safe and well maintained.—Wendi Tremblay

Yes, we should pay more. It's the mechanics—not the pilots or managers—who keep those planes safe to fly. Yet the average pay for a commercial aircraft mechanic is $62K before taxes. Take a look at what has happened to the aircraft mechanics at American Airlines. In 1994, their weak union, the TWU, settled for a bad six year labor contract that provided an immediate pay freeze for 3 years. The next three years provided 3% per year. In 2000, the mechanics actually saw a decent raise, though the increased cost of health benefits ate up a lot of that raise. But then 9/11 happened. Under the threat of the airline going bankrupt, in 2002,the TWU opened the contract and settled for the worst deal in labor history. The highly skilled, experienced mechanics lost an immediate 17.5% in pay; one week of paid vacation; changes in over time rules-no matter how many hours worked, it's only at time and a half; including working on holidays; weekend pay is straight time pay; no pay for the first day called in sick; night shift differential is a whopping .03 cents per hour; and a whole 1.5% pay increase per year. It is a total of 35% decrease in pay/benefits for 6 years. All while there is an annual increase in the cost of health insurance.... Why has mechanic pay been kept low? To provide cheap airfares. So yes, please, raise the ticket prices so that we can get a decent raise and good mechanics won't leave their jobs. By the way...in five years there will be a shortage of aircraft mechanics.—Lisa

I would happily pay an extra 10 to 15 percent for more leg room and decent food -- on top of things like a safe plane, on time departure, and luggage going to the right place. But there doesn't seem to be a market for these things.—Nathan

As a member of a family of four, we are already crippled by the prospect of paying $900, $1,000 for the cost of airfare alone just to get from Denver to Chicago. If ticket costs rise (which I would guess would be a substantial increase in order to solve said problems) this will quickly become an elite-only method of transportation. How could we stand for that?—Karen in Colorado

Read the full list of reader comments on the original post, Should you pay more to fly?

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