In the subterranean depths of a downtown Denver hotel ballroom, airport executives from across North America are gathered at 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. Many were out late the night before, commiserating. Times are tough in the airport trade.
They queue up for a breakfast buffet featuring waffles and 2-inch-diameter egg-and-spinach sandwiches. They reload their coffees. Then, at 9 a.m. sharp, the aviation nerds troop into an adjacent room, where the airline representatives await them.