Here’s What Transportation Used to Cost

I came across something I posted in 2007 and I’ve been pondering it for a bit.

I recently flew Etihad’s first class suites, connecting from terminal 3 in Abu Dhabi to terminal 1 where the business class lounge is packed solid and poorly provisioned. I then wound up at a bus gate out to my business class onward flight to India. My round trip ticket cost me some American Airlines miles of course but less than $100 in taxes and fees.

Here’s what travel used to cost.

In England it was calculated that one horse was needed for every mile of a journey on a well-maintained turnpike road. So, for the 185 miles from Manchester to London, 185 horses had to be kept stabled and fed to deal with the seventeen changes required by the stagecoaches which traveled the route. Those horses in turn required an army of coachmen, postillions, guards, grooms, ostlers and stable-boys to keep them running.

…A journey from Augsburg to Innsbruck by stagecoach, although little more than 60 miles as the crow flies, would have cost an unskilled laborer more than a month’s wages just for the fare.

I won’t complain about Etihad’s terminal 1 business class lounge.

And — for the next day or so at least — I will not even complain about airlines who add fuel surcharges onto the cost of award tickets.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Point of reference: My mom flew BOAC r/t, coach class. in 1960, from LHR to BOS. Her fare was $600 USD–about 4 months’ wages for my father, an enlisted military police officer.

  2. FYI, as an inbound Etihad First passenger, you are eligble to you use the First Class lounge in Terminal 3 instead, with its (imo excellent) restaurant and spa treatments, etc – even if your flight is departing T1. ‘Terminal 1’ is actually only a short 5 minute walk away, and so you don’t need to bother with the awful T1 lounge at all.

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