AIRLINES: The Frill Is Gone

For nearly two decades, the nation's airlines have tried to fill empty seats on their cavernous jets primarily by catering to the air traveler's palate rather than his pocketbook. They have wined and dined him with increasingly elaborate soup-to-nuts meal services and, while offering a variety of excursion rates, raised regular fares more than 40 times since the jets began flying in the U.S. in 1958. After the last across-the-board fare boost of 4% in November, however, customers suddenly began to rebel. Airline traffic has slumped 15% below a year ago, even...

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