This time is different: 70s airlines

This time is different is an attempt to understand when this time is different rather than when it’s not. Our working model is that TTID when the system changes.

In the high jump, things were different because the landing area went from wood chips to soft foam, allowing athletes to land on their back.

In startups like Uber, things were different because the technology costs like AWS and GPS fell. Similarly is Ben Thompson’s question: what happens when marginal costs are zero?

A systemic change was the case of airline deregulation in the 1970s:

“Something else happens and you can see it in the airline route maps. Look at one in 1978 and you don’t see that many red lines but in 2017 it’s an explosion of red all over the country and there will be these spots where they’re very dark: Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis. These are hub airports. Hub and spoke activity really takes off after this (airline deregulation) legislation.” – Bruce Carlson, My History can Bear up Your Politics, August 2021

Prior to deregulation, the average flight was 55% full and a ticket from New York to Los Angeles cost $1482 in inflation adjusted dollars compared to $268 in 2021. Carlson points out too that a number of companies like Pan Am went out of business after the deregulation.

Pan Am

Those idyllic phots are temping. Those were the days. But that’s like someone fifty years from now looking at Instagram and thinking that was life. Hey, everyone was beautiful and always on vacation.

These posts are an attempt to categorize when TTID. So far it’s when a fundamental aspect changes how a business creates value and captures value.


In 2019 one billion people flew in the United States. One in six 2019 flyers were on a Southwest flight. One in twenty went through Atlanta.