More than 100 years ago, a ­Benoist XIV biplane delivered a lone passenger across Florida’s Tampa Bay, cutting what was then a day’s journey down to a matter of minutes. The first scheduled passenger airline service set the stage for a century of innovation, triumph, and tragedy—a lightning rod for the national imagination and a monument to human progress.

But as air travel has evolved to tackle the realities of the 21st-century marketplace, a sector that once stood for convenience, efficiency, and even glamour has now become a symbol of precisely the opposite qualities for many consumers. This month Consumer Reports is giving you a window-seat view of how passenger air travel arrived at the state it’s in today.




Of course, we’ll also present you with solutions, including recommendations so that you and your family can have a saner, safer, cheaper flying experience. Additionally, we’ll provide you with other steps that you can take to exercise your power as a consumer to restore a bit of consumer-­friendliness to the friendly skies. With prices rising, leg room disappearing, lines lengthening, and extra fees mounting up, there’s a lot to worry about in air travel today. In Consumer Reports, you have a partner working to equip you with everything you need to navigate the skies with savvy and help set the industry on a course that once again listens to consumer needs.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the October 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.