The airlines are profitable, so let's end the pity party

Traveller checks in at Delta Airlines
Traveller checks in at Delta Airlines

The third quarter results are rolling in from the major airlines. Your wallet already knew what they tell: They are doing just fine. For the past two years, the major carriers have foisted their extra fees on the public by trotting out a series of sob songs that cajoled the weaker among us into feeling a sense of compassion that would be better turned on our fellow man than a business.

Sob no more. The new way of doing business at the airlines -- charging you for every little thing, cutting air schedules to the point where fewer tickets are available at a discount -- have eked so much cash from your purse that the airlines are doing pretty well again. U.S. Airways: $420 million profit. United: $387 million profit. Continental: $354 million profit. Delta: $363 million profit. AirTran: $36 million profit. Alaska Air reported its "best quarter ever." And those are quarterly profits, so if they keep doing that well for a year, you'll see more than $1 billion in profit for the first four liners. U.S. Airways is even about to start hiring again, which is certainly cause for a bittersweet smile.