The airline industry could learn a lesson or two from People Express. For those of you who weren’t traveling in the early-mid 1980s, People Express was a budget airline best known for cheap flights between Newark, NJ, and London’s Gatwick Airport. It charged fees for bags and fees for food — and it was one of the best airlines I’ve ever flown. We brought our own food and liquor with us, and the airline encouraged us to have a party.

People Express worked because it advertised as no-frills and there was no guesswork about what you were getting. That earned the company a loyal following. The company ultimately failed due to tough competition from other airlines and after a shift away from its no-frills roots.

Today’s airlines nickel and dime everyone, while offering nothing but poor service and safety concerns. I recognize that the airline industry is being hammered by mounting fuel costs but–news flash–so are the rest of us. Few, if any, other businesses could treat their customers this badly and stay in business. On second thought, maybe that’s why I’d rather drive 1,000 miles than get on a plane. Public Relations 101, anyone?