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Its called Deregulation. Many of you will recall when there was little or no competition among airlines, prices were fixed by the Government to guarantee a profit. Fares were very high, but service was excellent.
Now people look for the lowest fares, and the use of computers helps them find them. In a way, we are part of the blame, since we force airlines to cut fares which results in poor service.
About the only US airline I willingly fly is Southwest. They are a budget airline, but I've never had any problems. For International Travel, I like British Airways, at least Business Class is good.