The Wall Street Journal (front page of the Personal Journal) has a story about how the America West airline is starting a test program to sell meals on some of its flights. I think this is great news and a great idea. It seems to me one of the problems with the airline industry — much like the telecom industry — is that the product has been commodified. Like when you buy water or electricity, the only thing which distinguishes venders is price. Do you really care who you buy your copper from, so long as it’s cheap and arrives on time? The same thing has happened with airlines. The price differentials between the high-added value product (first class) and the bargain basement product (coach) are so huge, few people are willing to pay for anything but the cheapest product, so long as it gets you there on time. I think it’s long past due for the airlines to add more and better products for travellers. For too long the choice has been between first/business class and steerage. There are signs here and there. Jet Blue is by far my favorite airline now. The owner of Hooters is starting his own charter airline with Hooter girls as flight “attendants.” And United introduced slightly pricier extended leg room seats in coach a while back. Personally, I am convinced that the first airline to provide an in-cabin kennel for dogs which travellers can sit next to will make a fortune. Trust me on this.