It’s 2019, and modern airplanes can go further, carrying more people than ever before. We’ve gotten used to that in the United States, where for-profit airlines are trying to make as much money off the flying public as possible. Sure, there are holdouts, like Southwest, who still lets you check up to two bags included in the cost of your ticket. And that’s awesome.
But now we’re getting into something more. Back in the 1980s when I went to Hawaii from the West Coast, I remember flying an American Airlines Boeing 747 from LAX to HNL. A big plane, that could carry a metaphorical buttload of people. Even though it was a 5-hour flight from the West Coast, that was done in style, and you got to share the excitement of your upcoming journey with hundreds of people. And on the way back, you got to lament with your fellow passengers that your vacation was over.
That was then. Back when airlines had cheaper fuel and the desire to travel was less than it is now. The lineup for airlines back then was the 747, the 767, and maybe for some, the 757. I’m sure that there was A300 service back then, too, though I don’t follow Airbus as Boeing.
Alaska Airlines entered the Hawaiian market from the West Coast back in the mid 2010s, serving the islands with Boeing 737s. Southwest just entered the lucrative Hawaiian market. And like Alaska Airlines mainline (not counting acquired Virgin America), Southwest will service with their fleet of Boeing 737s.
What do all of these have in common? Single-aisle airplanes. Planes that when you get claustrophobic and tired of being in the air for 5 hours, you really don’t have all that much place to go. I mean sure, once you’re on an airplane there’s not really much place to move around. But there’s a huge difference between flying on a 150 seater Boeing 737, and a 600 seater Airbus A380.
If I want to go on a long trip somewhere, I want to be on a plane that has more space to move around than your grandmother’s powder room. So honestly, that’s why I would never fly a small plane for more than a three or four-hour journey. I mean, I have – once. Didn’t have much choice when we were supposed to go to Thailand on the Airbus A380, they had a military coup, and we ended up on a Boeing 737 for almost six hours each way because that’s really all I could get on short notice with points.
I know having a one-model type fleet saves airlines money. But it doesn’t do the people any good when they’re stuck on that tiny plane for hours on end. So if I’m going to plan a journey that takes more than a few hours in the air, I’m going to look for the biggest plane possible to get me there, even if that means bypassing my favorite airline to do it.