“YOU LIKE TACO BELL?” Gordon Bethune, Continental Airlines’ chairman and chief executive officer, asks me as he leads the way through bustling Terminal C at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Usually CEO lunch interviews are bland, catered affairs with finger sandwiches or something equally boring served in a stiff corporate setting. But Bethune—whom no one would ever accuse of being bland, boring, or stiff—likes his power lunches a bit spicier and more egalitarian. Not to mention cheaper, especially in the cost-cutting frenzy following September 11.
“Are things really that tough in the airline business?” I ask, only half-joking.
“Hell, I can’t even afford