The Star Tribune is reporting that Minnesota travelers pay some of the highest airline fees in the U.S. That doesn’t surprise me. Since the merger of Delta and Northwest, I have flown far less often than I did before. Although I hate flying, I hate wasting up to two days of my trip driving, as well. It’s just that the economics never worked out in favor of flying.
If you think about it, the economics SHOULD work in favor of air travel. Two people on a plane with 148 other people SHOULD be more much cheaper than two people in a car for two days. I know jet fuel is expensive, but I just don’t buy it. Especially when people from the east coast can fly anywhere they want.
When Tom and I went to Glacier Park a few years ago, we took Amtrak. It was a really good way to travel. Some people believe that the future of long-distance mass transit is high speed trains. Right now, we don’t have the infrastructure set up to make high-speed train travel a comprehensive reality in the near future. At this point, there is no plan to link the east and west coast with a high speed train, however Minnesotans might be able to get to Chicago more quickly than Amtrak’s Empire Builder currently provides.
Right now, I think the answer to regional fare disparity is to take a hard look at the anti-competitive market forces. I’m not suggesting more regulation (deregulation occurred decades ago, and it’s just too quaint to suggest a return to the era of the stewardess), so much as remembering our 8th grade civics lessons about monopolies and their long-term effect on pricing. Because if you live in Minneapolis, you are subject to monopoly pricing of airfares.