Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back
Re much higher ticket prices - first of all I think it may be a little bit higher ticket prices at worst. Secondly, I think that the recent airline bankruptcies included more than a fair share of low costs, and I am reluctant to blame minimal legroom or seat width for those.
I have just been on 2 flights with a budget airline and there were no reclining seats. Even though the flights were not long (say, 3.5h) it was extremely uncomfortable, in particular because I could not adjust the seat position. The final price of the flight, including, among other things, a surcharge for a trolley (not a suitcase, and not checked in), a salad and a small bottle of water brought on board (bought for a fortune at the airport past security controls, but still cheaper and better than buying on board), and even avoiding paying to choose our seats to sit together (swapped places with another passenger - lucky) was not far from a full service flag carrier on the same route. All of these "innovations" are very recent indeed. In fact, I think it was my first flight ever where I could not take a perfectly standard trolley on board by default, and this particular airline introduced the new scheme only last November - I checked.
So I started thinking that there could be an innovative> business model for an airline that will differentiate itself by offering the "luxuries" of just a couple short years ago. You know, a trolley, a meal, a reclining seat, maybe some in-flight entertainment, and - gosh! - enough leg room for those seats to recline. I am not of unusual dimensions, and I don't recall reclining seats causing any inconvenience before low cost airlines started treating passengers as sardines and major players decided they needed to cut costs by any means. I suspect this could draw smarter passengers to such offerings, even at a somewhat higher price.
But then I realized that there was a critical piece of infrastructure missing before this could be feasible. And that is my IT angle. Think how the vast majority of people buy airline tickets today. They go to comparison sites such as kayak, kiwi, whatever. That gives scale that an old-fashioned travel agent will be hard pressed to match. Those sites allow you to filter the results in various ways, such as number of stops, overall time, departure/arrival time. But that's about it - the principal sorting criterion is price.
So airlines try to reduce the base price as much as they can and make the most trivial things such as carry-on trolleys extra. That way their offering climbs up on price comparison sites. I am quite convinced this is the main reason. Airlines don't save anything on this as people still bring trolleys aboard - hardly anyone flies 3.5h one way with only a small backpack. On these two flights last week I looked and didn't anyone without a trolley or a largish carry-on piece, except maybe a couple of people (who probably checked larger suitcases in), which means that most passengers paid the surcharge. But while some price comparison sites allow you to specify checked-in luggage as a filter, nowhere did I see an option to say "please count a trolley in". There is no way, as far as I can judge, to compare the final prices fairly.
So, unless popular price comparison sites start allowing filters saying "I want basic conveniences during the flight" with a number of options, and unless they allow airlines to provide the necessary information for useful filtering, my "luxury flying" business model has no chance of succeeding.
By the way, it's possible. I am rather impressed by the variety of filters booking.com allow for hotels, and I use them. I tried alternatives, such as agoda.com, but those guys tend to shave of, say, taxes and other extras and in the end the lack of transparency left me feeling rather cheated. Over many years of using booking.com I don't recall ever paying a penny more. [No, I am not affiliated with them - just an overall satisfied customer. My whole point is transparency that I value.]
The kayaks and the kiwis of the world: you do what I suggest and I'll use your sites happily!
To conclude: I suspect I am not alone in willing to pay a bit more - and I don't think it's a lot more - for minimal in-flight conveniences and, crucially, for not having to deal with the incredible hassle - that simply didn't exist before - of figuring out what extras I might need and how much I will have to pay for them and how does this compare to other offers. The low prices airlines push in our faces are not low and are not some kind of benefit, at least not apart from some rather unusual cases. Rather, they are a means of avoiding transparency, at our expense, and riding on the wave of IT innovation of easy price comparison on the web, and that is the biggest deal.