Helped by falling oil prices, airlines are reporting record profits, but for many passengers this sudden bonanza has meant little more than extra bags of free peanuts and pretzels.
The four biggest domestic carriers — American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — together earned about $22 billion in profits last year, a stunning turnaround after a decade of losses, bankruptcies and cutbacks. A big reason for this is the plunging price of jet fuel, which now costs only a third of what it did just two years ago.
But that windfall is only slowly finding its way down the aisles. Days after reporting record profits, for instance, two of the nation’s biggest airlines brought back free snacks in coach.
mid-15c., from wind (n.1) + fall (n.1). Originally literal, in reference to wood or fruit blown down by the wind, and thus free to all. Figurative sense of "unexpected acquisition" is recorded from 1540s.