Best Business Schools in Kerala, Trivandrum | Asian School of Business

Prof. C. Krishna Kumar

Can the act of reducing one olive from the salad served inflight make a huge difference to an airline?

Sometime in the 1980s American Airlines realized that while many passengers would eat the dinner salads, a majority of them would ignore the customary olive on the plate.

This prompted Robert Crandall, who was the airline head during that time, to remove the olive. The catering company charged the airline for the salads based on the number of ingredients in the salad. The single olive was an additional ingredient. When that was removed, the price of the salad came down. Very few customers noticed this change.

The result of this minor change was an annual savings of over $40,000 for American Airlines!!

Northwest Airlines served wedges of lime as part of their drinks service. A full lime was cut into 10 wedges.

Northwest realized that the lime could be cut into 16 wedges without customers realizing any change.

The result: $500,000 savings every year!!

These stories are narrated to make you understand that there are so many possibilities in an organization to make its functioning more efficient and effective. You only need to put your mind into finding the right solution.


Economic Times (2017) ‘Cutting out salads to fly high again’, 13 June 2017 [Online]. Available from:

Financial Express (2017) ‘Air India salad cut: Loss-making Indian airline inspired by story of American Airlines that saved $40,000 by cutting one olive from every meal?’, 13 June 2017 [Online]. Available from:

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