How Would You Fix the Airlines?

If you're a problem solver, and you're a flier, maybe you have at least one good idea.

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If you're a successful person, you're probably a problem solver—not just at work but elsewhere in your life. Maybe you'd stop and help a confused gaggle of tourists find their bus stop, or stoop to fix a shaky table at a restaurant. So what's your solution for American Airlines? Seriously. (I'm guessing that airline problems have already negatively affected your business travels and your work.)

Nobody—frequent travelers least of all—is happy to hear that the airline's parent, AMR Corp., is slashing flights, retiring planes, and about to start charging $15 for the first checked bag on some domestic flights. From yesterday's statement:

"The airline industry as it is constituted today was not built to withstand oil prices at $125 a barrel, and certainly not when record fuel expenses are coupled with a weak U.S. economy," said AMR Chairman and CEO Gerard Arpey. "Our company and industry simply cannot afford to sit by hoping for industry and market conditions to improve. We must work to overcome our near-term challenges and to secure our company's long-term future for the benefit of our shareholders, customers and employees. We must find ways to cover the cost of providing our services so that we can remain viable and have the resources to reinvest in our company for the future. Those goals are central to the actions we are outlining today."

So, if you were AMR's CEO instead of Arpey, how would you tackle the challenge of record oil prices (which hit more than $135 earlier today)? Would you add advertising on flights? Would you cut miles programs? Would you increase ticket prices or otherwise change the way tickets are priced?