Nope. Dead serious. Airlines worked fine before deregulation in 1978, though it was more expensive, so alternatives like Amtrak were created for shorter trips. An argument could be made the since airlines have been in a race to the bottom in pricing, there's been no pressure to create alternatives.
As it stands now, flying is a miserable experience for passengers, unprofitable when paying a fair wage, and - as 9/11 proved - a serious security risk to our country. Nationalizing, or - at the very least - significantly re-regulating them would no doubt increase prices but it would have benefits beyond making the industry more stable.
Well there's a difference between nationalizing
the airlines (i.e. government-owned and operated like Aeroflot, Olympic and other "national flag carriers") and what existed prior to deregulation in 1978.
Also, there's a huge difference in the landscape now vs 1978. First, there were many, many more U.S. airlines in 1978 than today. National, Piedmont, North Central, Air Florida, PSA, Texas International, Northeast... All gone now. Consolidation has taken care of that, so there is actually less
"need" for the CAB to try and balance out an "appropriate piece of the pie" for each carrier.
Also, almost all the the major airlines are members of global alliances (Star, OneWorld, SkyTeam). Nationalizing the airlines would have worldwide impacts, virtually destroying these alliances and the bi-lateral agreements in place between the USA and many countries (Brazil, London-Heathrow in the UK to name just two).
Many of the the complaints about flying today are a result of the airline's response to public demand for lower fares. That's why service is going "a la carte" on so many airlines - you actually get what you are willing to pay for.
The only real problem facing all the U.S. airlines at the moment is fuel prices, but so long as oil stays at $100 or less, the industry will be fine as newer more efficient aircraft are entering the fleets each month.
All the other airlines pretty much have their labor issues resolved - and they are posting profits, except for the one airline that hasn't been able to hammer out a deal with their unions - and that airline is AA.
So today we've seen what happens when a union refuses to be reasonable - the very people they claim to represent are the ones who end up getting hurt.
P.S. I love Amtrak. A few months ago I rode Amtrak from New Orleans to Los Angeles. Comfortable bed, great hot meals, friendly staff and passengers and amazing scenery - and we arrived on time! Will be taking Amtrak from Miami to NYC in a few weeks too.