1) You'll be able to find plenty of folder for under $200.
2) FAA/airline stipulations often become very arbitrary, as a knucklehead with little pay or training is usually staffing the station.
3) One sided chisel grinds and geometric tanto points aren't so hot for cutting tasks, though they're fine for defensive work. The curved belly of clip and spear point designs is preferable for utility, as they make cutting tasks easier by presenting more continuous blade surface.
4) ATS 34 is the standard steel for production folders, and provides an adequate compromise between edge holding, corrosion resistance, and general toughness. There are some other steels that work better than ATS 34, but include limitations from the standpoint of maintenance or expense. ATS 34 will do.
5) Serrations are nice if you're working around fibrous materials - rope, fabric, etc. A combo edge blade will accomplish many tasks for you. Downside of serrations is that they require special equipment for sharpening.
Ernie Emerson's knives are extremely popular, and his designs are practical, robust, and well executed. You may find his Raven clip point folder or Specwar clip point to be worthwhile. I'm not a fan of the chisel grind designs. The CQC7's handle profile is functional, though they pale next to the Specwar and Commander handles, which are extremely comfortable and well designed. For the dollar, you'll also find the Spyderco Endura or Delica to be of high value -- for $35 or so each, you can afford to have a few and not worry about losing them.