Deregulation has "democratized" the skies

02/12/2012 | New York Times (tiered subscription model), The

When it comes to flying first class, the thrill is gone, some experts say. Deregulation has "hugely democratized" the skies, said Gary Leff, a founder of, a frequent-flier community. Since deregulation in the late 1970s, low-cost carriers were introduced. Later, the industry was dealt blows with 9/11, rising fuel costs and the recession, resulting in an extended era of cost-cutting. The development of loyalty programs also allowed members to pay for upgrades with miles, further eroding the cache of first class.

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