If you think prices of eggs and gas are inflated, wait ’til you see what I discovered in an old airline timetable


As I ease into the return of Around the Block, I thought I’d take it slowly. Sure, I could opine on the antics of my governor, Ron DeSantis. But you’re probably already aware of his antics. Or, I could write about what’s happening in Israel and whether, with the current Netanyahu government, characterized as the most right-wing government in the history of the State of Israel, democracy in “Eretz Yisroel” is salvageable. Or, perhaps closer to home, with gerrymandering and the tyranny of the Electoral College, whether democracy is salvageable here at home in the good old United States of America.

Without doubt at some point in the not-to-distant future I will write something about all those issues. But not today. Because today I’d like to talk about one of the most trying issues facing us in America. Inflation.

You’ve all suffered the ravages of inflation. And even if you haven’t, the media has told you about those ravages. $12 for a dozen eggs. $6+ per gallon for gas. And it’s not just eggs and gas. Recent government data indicate that food prices have outpaced the overall inflation rate, rising nearly 11% year-over-year. And, costs have risen even faster for food meant to be consumed at home, which has seen a roughly 13% hike.

To put all this in perspective, a study done in November 2022 detailed year on year inflation for a basketful of consumer goods:

Why are we being ravaged by inflation? Most of you who read this blog will attribute these horrifying numbers to pandemic-incurred supply chain issues. Others will blame the Russian war against Ukraine. And, of course, two of my readers will pin the blame directly on Joe Biden. (Wait, what – did I hear Trump say there would have been no inflation, no pandemic, no war in Ukraine if the election hadn’t been stolen from him?)

Never mind.

If you think inflation is bad now. let me put all this into perspective.


With an amazing artifact that a friend dropped at my doorstep: a TWA timetable covering April 25-May 31, 1982. Apparently, they published this 30-page booklet every month. I guess the airlines have a long history of eco-unfriendliness.

(Wait, I’m assuming many [most?] of you are old enough to remember TWA – Trans World Airlines. Back in the day TWA and its arch rival PanAm – Pan American World Airways – dominated the skies not only in the U.S. but all over the world; they were the only U.S.-based airlines to fly international routes. It wasn’t for naught that both included the word World in their names.

Ok you’re probably thinking at this point, what’s with the aviation history lesson? Is the next paragraph going to be about the Wright brothers or Charles Lindbergh? Wasn’t this story going to be about the ravages of inflation?

Yes. But a little context is always important to put a story into perspective.

Before I throw this artifact out (sorry Neil), I thumbed through it and found some fine print that puts meat around Joe Biden’t pledge to compel airlines to stop nickel and diming their customers with outrageous additional fees. In this case, baggage fees.

In 1982, TWA allowed each passenger in any class (even Economy) two bags of up 62 pounds each at no charge. If, for some reason, like say you were using TWA to move your entire wardrobe, the extra charge would be $7 per 62 pound piece up to a total of four additional pieces. Let’s do the math. If you brought six 62 pound bags with you on your TWA flight from New York to San Francisco (a total weight of 372 pounds), your fee would $28!

How does that $0 to $28 charge compare to today’s baggage fees. The best method would be to compare TWA’s 1982 baggage fees to the airline flying today that is most comparable to TWA, United Airlines. For the purpose of this comparison, I’ve used a customer with no frequent flyer status since TWA’s baggage fees were the same for any class of service. Below is United’s Baggage Fee Calculator:

Assuming no overweight luggage on United, here’s how the fees compare:

So, for the standard two-bag per person load, United fees are $80 more for carrying 24 pounds less. Since determining a % increase is difficult if the starting amount is $0, let’s say that TWA’s fee was $1/bag making the two bag total $2. The percent increase from $2 to $80 is 3,900%. Over the course of the 40 years since 1982, the annual rate of increase would be 97.5%. And if those United bags weighed 62 pounds each, the TWA allowance, the fee would be $280 and the percent increase would be 13,900% or 347.5% per annum. Now that’s inflation!

And I haven’t even addressed advanced seat fees, carry-on bag fees and the costs of once-free meals.

Welcome to the friendly skies!

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

5 thoughts on “If you think prices of eggs and gas are inflated, wait ’til you see what I discovered in an old airline timetable

  1. Today you are just happy to get from point A to point B on time…and in one piece. And if you are lucky, if you checked luggage, it will show up too!


  2. Very good article on the “good ole days” of flying! Thanks for looking this up and the tables you generated. I miss TWA and even had stock in them. Worthless now though.


  3. I don’t fly anymore. Not because of baggage costs, but because of the pollution one plane can add to the environment in just a 6 hour flight. When Covid had most planes grounded the air actually cleaned itself up a bit. But the airplanes are flying again, and pollution is increasing accordingly. We really should have stuck to air balloons.
    But your figures on the cost of travel baggage are quite amazing! I am surprised this is not a news story. The sheep are getting fleeced, and no one is bleating! There is something omimous about that.


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