The airline industry is the only industry I know that is aggressively moving to commoditize itself.
Normally industries aggressively move to differentiate themselves.
Commoditization is the process wherein a thing/product/service becomes indistinguishable from another. It’s typically on a continuum, so there might be some brand recognition, but competition is dominated by price. The more commoditized a thing/product/service is, the less pricing power the industry has. Pricing becomes a race to the bottom. This is a bad thing for the business and a mixed bag for the customer.
Imagine you go to the store to buy milk. I think King Soopers had a gallon of whole milk for $2.39 last time I checked. KS can raise their price to $2.40/gal, and they probably wouldn’t lose many sales. A few people equidistant or almost equidistant between stores might go someplace else, but most people would pay the penny. KS would have more difficulty raising their price to $2.49/gal because milk is basically the same, and Safeway might have a better price. Milk is highly commoditized. This is one reason grocery stores operate on razor thin profit margins, often ~2%, and struggle to make money. For the store, it’s bad.
Airlines are doing this intentionally, and I have no idea why.
One cannot get seat information from an airline. One cannot search by seat limitations, nor can one choose one fare over another by such means. A passenger, i.e. customer, cannot buy a ticket that guarantees them any characteristic OTHER THAN PRICE, making price the only determining factor.
I can’t buy a seat where I know I’ll get enough knee room. I can’t buy one with guaranteed seat width. I can’t even get one with a guaranteed aircraft. The only thing I can guarantee is price.
So why wouldn’t I shop for the cheapest price?
And as such, no airline has pricing power, cost competition is taking them to the bottom, and no airline has a shred of customer loyalty. There is no difference between them, other than price. They did this intentionally, and I cannot imagine why.