United Pilots Walk the Line

A battle over salaries for new employees leads to airport chaos

Frazzled travelers accustomed to racing through airports, missing connections and losing luggage had something else to worry about last week. United Airlines, which normally carries some 120,000 passengers on 1,500 flights daily, suspended virtually all its service after 5,000 pilots went on strike. Industry observers are keeping a close eye on United, since its final settlement could set a precedent for other airline negotiations. "It's going to be a watershed development," said Alfred Norling, an analyst with Kidder Peabody.

Thousands of people traveling on business or to weddings or graduations were idled, and airports around the U.S. were in chaos. "It's...

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