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American Airlines made a very exciting announcement. Delta just laughed

Airlines want you to look into the future. Is it to avoid the reality of the present? Even American's own pilots are disturbed.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer on
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Desperately looking to the future?

(A screenshot from an American video)

Chris Matyszczyk/screenshot

Airlines want you to be excited. No, not by the delays, the lack of staff and the decimation of customer service.

They'd like you to move by the vast possibilities the future holds. No, not flights on time, plenty of staff and instant customer service.

Instead, they'd like you to be moved by how wonderful travel will be in the future. Some undetermined time in the future, that is.

Why Delta is promising it may have free wifi that actually works. Sometime soon.

Meanwhile, American Airlines tried to make a vast impact last week by announcing it's investing in 20 wonderful new planes. Supersonic planes that'll fly you from Miami to London in just five hours.

Created by an elegantly-named company called Boom, these planes -- when they actually exist, that is -- promise to fly extremely quickly on sustainable aviation fuel. Troublingly, they don't appear to have an engine yet.

Boom expects to be flying in 2026, and American isn't even the first major airline to have announced its participation. United has already placed a deposit on 50 Boom Overtures.

This all sounds very exciting. For those who've survived long enough, they might remember Air France and British Airways flying something called the Concorde across the Atlantic in the last century. It wasn't the most comfortable plane, but it did get you to New York from London very quickly.

Everyone would surely rather spend less time on a plane, rather than more.

You'd think, then, that every airline would leap upon this supersonic PR machine to bolster their self-image.

Yet here was Delta CEO Ed Bastian telling Fox Business: "I have a lot more questions than answers still. Until we are confident that we could actually generate a reliable return from the aircraft, that's not where we're investing."

It's fascinating that he's honest enough to make it about money. It seems so long ago that Delta's image was based around innovation, reliability and customer service. Its recent abject slippage has rather spoiled that. Perhaps now it's trying to sound responsible and even chastened.

Also: A United Airlines pilot made a big speech to passengers. Not everyone will love it

I fear, though, that Bastian is also chuckling a little at competitors desperately trying to drum up positive news when there's so little to be had for airlines.

Don't look at the mess we've made over here; look at that bright future over there.

You might imagine, though, that American's own pilots can't wait to fly in a Boom. It would surely represent the apogee of their flying careers.

Well, the Allied Pilots Association's pilots' union couldn't contain itself. It rushed to Twitter and offered exciting words from Capt. Denis Tajer, its spokesman.

"It matters not what airplane you book," said Tajer. "Whether it travels at the speed of sound or it's subsonic, a cancellation is a cancellation."

Perhaps it's not so easy to get everyone excited after all.

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