The airports have largely rebounded from the low point of 2001-2005. TSA creatures are less deliberately odious, and the quality of the cabin service is slowly creeping up again. That said, look at any 1960s or early 70s movie that shows air travel in passing and you will see a great difference in the pleasantness of travel. All the improvements have been technological — speed, in-flight Internet, and most of the declines social — the security theater, the tired and often cranky attendants. Prices have dropped somewhat, usually in concert with painful reductions in seat dimensions.
I am quite curious why US airlines (with the notable exception of Southwest) have worse service than most European airlines. The food is certainly inferior, as are entertainment and the attitudes of the staff. Is it the union correlation or something else? I have not flown on Asian airlines yet, but I hear much more positive reports. The most pleasant flight so far has been out of Vieques island — no TSA involved at all…and I was very eager to get off that third-world location. The next leg of the flight through San Juan, Puerto Rico was the usual TSA idiocy combined with an extra layer of INS and border patrol aggravations.
For some reason, landing in Prague or Dusseldorf is a much friendlier experience than returning to the “land of the free”, even though I was merely a visitor there while a citizen in the US. The US has improved from 2005 to 2012-13, but still lags far behind in politeness and lack of intrusiveness.