If you want to focus on the front-cabin experiences, just think about the seats: where were the lie-flat beds in Business in 1989? Today's BA's Club World would make most past First pale. The product has evolved. Wake up.
If prices is your beef, applying some common sense like, say, inflation, would do you good. The author quotes the LHR-JFK route at GBP 257 in 1989, 399 today.
257 is equal to …GBP 590 (in 2013 prices, the latest I could do a calculation with). In 1989 prices, you'd get the flight for just 170 quid!
Same goes for Business and First. It's less expensive today, full stop.
There's a lot to say about the state of travel today. Some truly negative—the security hassle, the economy seats, etc.
But let's not get carried away with a misplaced elitist nostalgic narrative. Way more people can fly today that in the entire history of flying. No matter what you think about the privatization of carriers or the emergence of low cost carriers, the fact remains: it has opened the skies to more people than an elite.
That's just amazing in my book.
Oh, and in 1989, smoked salmon had a different taste indeed. Tar and nicotine were added by your fellow passengers.