Airlines: The White-Knuckle Carriers

Along with its big, intercity trunk air lines and its smaller, regional carriers, the U.S. has still another kind of air service—and it is the fastest-growing of all. More than 4,000 short-haul outfits will carry about 725,000 passengers this year in small planes that fly between convenient downtown airports or to and from smaller towns and cities. For years the lines have been known rather ingloriously as "third-level carriers," but their safety standards have often been so third-rate that some customers call them "white-knuckle airlines."

Passengers have hair-curling stories about many of...

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