Dave Barger, pres­i­dent and chief exec­u­tive officer of Jet­Blue, said the air­line industry has strug­gled to reap profits in the 98 years since the first com­mer­cial air­line flight in America. To buck that trend, Barger said Jet­Blue has put an enor­mous focus on inno­va­tion and excel­lence in cus­tomer ser­vice in its nearly 12 years in existence.

By def­i­n­i­tion, we have to be doing things dif­fer­ently. We have to fight against the tide, because the pull of his­tory is just too strong,” Barger told 150 people in atten­dance — and many others viewing online — for North­eastern University’s CEO Break­fast Forum on Wednesday morning, held at the Four Sea­sons Hotel in Boston.

Jet­Blue, he said, has pur­sued these goals in many ways, from its low-​​cost model to in-​​flight enhance­ments such as satel­lite TV and radio — with onboard broad­band WiFi coming next year. Other strategic deci­sions include not over­booking flights and pur­suing air­craft designs with new engines and wings that improve fuel economy. Crew mem­bers even carry snacks for cus­tomers in bas­kets to avoid jam­ming up the aisles with rolling carts.

You have to listen to your cus­tomers,” Barger said.

Click here for a full video of the event.

One of the leading busi­ness forums in the country, Northeastern’s CEO Break­fast forums fea­ture top CEOs speaking to an audi­ence of other chief exec­u­tive offi­cers and senior exec­u­tives from the Greater Boston area, and beyond.

Barger com­mended Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun for Northeastern’s own inno­v­a­tive, forward-​​thinking ini­tia­tives, such as the global expan­sion of its sig­na­ture co-​​op pro­gram, as well as the university’s plans to open regional cam­puses across the country, which com­menced in October with the launch of the campus in Char­lotte, N.C.

We were talking about the co-​​op part­ner­ship between North­eastern and Jet­Blue — what can we do with each other to opti­mize some of the expe­ri­ences,” Barger said. “I’m really excited about that.”

In the future, Barger said air­lines in the United States still face great chal­lenges, including the industry’s heavy tax burden and the task of tran­si­tioning to a satel­lite technology-​​based system of man­aging com­mer­cial air traffic.

Barger fielded ques­tions from the audi­ence and via social media — including one sub­mitted via Twitter about how social media itself affects JetBlue’s approach to cus­tomer service.

Barger said Jet­Blue uses social media to dis­sem­i­nate real-​​time infor­ma­tion to its more than 1.6 mil­lion Twitter fol­lowers and another half-​​million Face­book fol­lowers. This includes posting every­thing from com­pany pro­mo­tions and schedule exten­sions to flight updates and air­port information.

Social media has been a ter­rific advan­tage for us,” he said. “It’s part of our DNA, and it’s going to be there for a long time.”