What''s an Airline to Do? -- WSJ 01-10-03

Aug 20, 2002
(paraphrases) Here are eight intriguing -- and controversial -- proposals.
1. TOSS THE FOOD CARTS - When AA instituted bistro service on short flights seven years ago it helped cut food-service costs nearly 8% in just three months.
2. BETTER SEAT, BIGGER PRICE - Broadway theaters charge more for a prime seat, so why can''t airlines offer travelers some a la carte seating options?
3. TURN ON THE TUBE - Put a TV set at every seat. How much does it really cost? LiveTV (owned by jetBlue) says it''s about $1 per passenger.
4. KEEP EXPANDING, EVEN NOW -- Experts estimate that air traffic will surpass pre-9/11 levels by mid-decade. Because aiport construction takes years to complete, waiting until business picks up will be too late.
5. GET PILOTS TALKING - When you''re rattling around in bumpy weather, it''s nice to get an update from the ****pit. Pilots aren''t fans of this though, and say sometimes they''re too busy to talk.
6. SECURITY FAST LANES - A combination of background checks and high-tech scanners to vet frequent fliers faster. Dallas just installed a handful of face scanners last month in a test (though they''re not cheap at $25,000 each). Not a security bypass, just a fast lane.
7. LESS BOOZE - Raise drink prices to rein in demand.
8. MORE GATEKEEPERS - Airlines may be strapped, but when it comes to the gate, face it: you need more people.