CHARLOTTE, N.C. (MainStreet) -- The U.S. airline industry carried more than 700 million passengers in 2011, and the vast majority reached their destinations on time.
Moreover, the industry was profitable despite high fuel prices and a slow economy, and it maintained an exemplary safety record, so commercial air travel in the U.S. remains probably the safest form of transportation in the history of the world.
Still, there is always room for improvement, not just in commercial aviation but also at suppliers such as Boeing (Stock Quote: BA), which in 2011 delivered the first model of a technological marvel, the Dreamliner, and operators of all-cargo fleets such as FedEx (Stock Quote: FDX) and UPS (Stock Quote: UPS), which continued to print money despite a slowing economy.
All of us need to be improving, or else we are standing still.
These five New Year's resolutions should help make airlines and key air transportation companies even better in 2012.
We will charge for drinks
Nobody except for airlines gives away soda these days. Not movie theaters. Not sports teams. Not hospitals. Not only does everybody else charge for soda, but also nobody else must pay the cost of lifting 400 cans of soda -- enough to provision an Airbus A320 -- six miles into the sky and flying them around before giving them away.
At a 2008 investor conference, President Scott Kirby noted that without free drinks, "the cabin environment is much calmer and more efficient." Consumption diminished, because in the past, nearly every passenger claimed a free drink. The charge also meant that carts no longer clogged the aisles, restroom lines diminished, less trash was left on board and aircraft catering was required less frequently.
By the way, if this works, we have four more fees airlines should also charge. Our country does not benefit when an industry so critical to our infrastructure is unable to make a profit.