Still hoping for the day airlines let all customers check bags and make reservation changes for free?
Forget it, said United Continental Holdings Inc.'s Chief Executive Jeff Smisek at an industry lunch on Thursday, defending airlines even as they reap billions in profit and face federal probes into pricing practices.
Some travelers are "having difficulty recognizing that we're now a business," Smisek told attendees, recalling the bankruptcies and mergers that reshaped the loss-making industry in the decade after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "They criticize us if we charge for more legroom. Let me tell you though: That's what businesses do."