The rest of the economy may not be doing great, but airlines are expecting a banner year. Profitability is up and fuel prices are declining, but that's not necessarily great news for consumers.
When Robert Herbst, a former pilot and industry consultant for many years, says the skies are blue, it sounds pretty convincing. And from Herbst's projections, this may be a historic year for the airline industry.
More planes are flying with full passenger loads, as any frequent flier will tell you. Mergers have helped cut costs. Ticket prices are up. Airlines are charging fees for bags. Fuel costs have eased a bit.
In these relatively good times, what does an airline CEO want?
Tiny bags of pretzels followed by some kind of rubber mystery meat - for those who fly, you know exactly what I'm talking about: the joys of airplane food. Well, some airlines are now trying to shake things up. They're showcasing some new cuisine in hopes of luring more passengers. But producing food that actually tastes great at cruising altitude is not easy, as NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.