Hard Landing

by Thomas Petzinger Jr.

One of the best parts about buying used books is that I get to have the chance to try more books. Rather than do meticulous research into a book before buying it, I can simply put it in my wishlist, check when it’s less than $5 and pull the trigger.

That’s how I landed a copy of Hard Landing, $45 on Amazon. I’m not sure if I would have ever bought the book at that price but looking back, it’s probably worth every penny. Airlines and their history have largely escaped my understanding previous to this book. My first memory of boarding a plane was when I was still in Kindergarden and soon, I was making the US - China flight alone. As a result, flying rarely held any mystique for me. Rather, looking at the loads of luggage, I had a deep appreciation for the logistics in running an airline.

In Hard Landing, the history of the airline industry was laid plain. Whether it was United, strong as ever, or Pan Am, now defunct, reading the rise and fall of these airlines has been a treat. In one sense, you could argue that Airlines have an incredible network effort. More flights = more passengers. More passengers = more flights. Every additional passenger meant cash for the airline and every additional flight meant more optionality for the passenger. But the product that the airlines were selling was ubiquitious, transportation. Some airlines tried to add frills to differentiate the product, others competed solely on price. But in the end, the winners, United, American, and Southwest won not because they were the best from day one but rather they made the rights choices time and time again and simply outlasted everyone else.


Next - With the Old Breed

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