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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, brought to you by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design services.

As we all know, the airlines are doing whatever they can to save money. It isn’t like they are trying to maximize their profits. Rather, they are trying to minimize their losses and avoid bankruptcy in the face of fuel price increases that are threatening the viability of the entire industry.

Which is why US Airways announced last week that it would be eliminating all the in-flight entertainment services from its domestic flights to the 48 contiguous states. Flights to Hawaii and out of the country will still offer entertainment services, but everybody else who flies US Air is on their own.

The reason? The in-flight entertainment equipment actually is pretty heavy – 500 pounds per plane, according to reports. By lightening the load on its planes, US Air can save money on fuel. Lots of money. Ten million dollars per year, in fact.

I find this interesting on a number of levels. First, it seems like just yesterday that the airlines stopped charging for headsets…and now, not only aren’t they going to give us headsets for free, but there isn’t going to be anything to watch. Not that this is a problem, at least not for me – I never got much of a kick out of edited and slightly out of focus movies anyway, not to mention not really needing to see episodes of ten-year-old sitcoms. (I usually have at least two books and a couple of DVDs in my bag that I can watch on my computer…just in case.)

But if you watch how the airlines are doing business right now, there clearly is a sense of desperation in the air. Not that this is unexpected – they have a lot to be desperate about. But one gets the clear idea that they are not really thinking very hard about the cuts, but rather just slashing wherever and whatever they can, figuring that they can put the pieces back together later.

Maybe not. Sometimes the puzzle doesn’t go back together. Sometimes there are pieces missing that you didn’t know were important, but end up being critical. It’s that way in every business, and the airlines are just the most public example right now. You can make the sorts of changes the airlines are making right now, but you'd better have a clear idea for how things are going to look at the other end of the tunnel. If you don’t, you may not be in any better shape when prosperity arrives than when recession looms.

There is one other thing about the US Air decision that occurs to me. If they are going to go to such lengths to eliminate 500 pounds of equipment from each flight, will it be long before they start measuring and weighing each passenger – not just our bags – to see what our fares should be?

Why not? I can see it now. You check in at the counter and after you pay for checked luggage they put you on the scale. “I’m sorry, sir, but our calculations show that you are 27 percent overweight for your height, and therefore we’ll be charging you a 27 percent surcharge on your ticket.”

Scoff if you will but this is not the craziest idea I’ve ever had. It isn’t even the craziest idea I’ve had today. And not only would it have an impact on airline profitability, it would help address both the energy crisis and the obesity epidemic, because the airlines will use less fuel and people will lose weight to save money.

That’s one hell of a trifecta, and I’m not even an economist.

For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.

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