Where's Paul Krugman when you need him? United Airlines is setting an entirely new definition of bankruptcy. The same UAL where, every time I fly, the plane is packed, shoulder to shoulder, with a long standby list. Since filing Chapter 11 in December 2002 the airline has lost $4.5 billion. That's right, $4.5 billion while restructuring. And UAL isn't the only airline suffering.
So what do they do? They take away pillows. They take away meals. They pack you three across on smaller planes. Now they're increasing the price of tickets and reducing domestic flight patterns because of rising fuel costs. The consumer and business traveler gets squeezed and squeezed.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the law firm handling UAL's bankruptcy has billed $54 million. That's right, $54 million. Senior partners are billing at $950 an hour. One attorney billed what averaged out to be 9.6 hours a day, seven days a week, at $540 an hour , for an entire year! I wonder what kind of car he or she is driving? Or what one of the vacation homes looks like? Or better yet, I wonder how much this person gives to charity?
It's no wonder Southwest and Jet Blue are doing so well. Somehow they've managed to remember that the customer is king...not the lawyers.