The Airline Passenger Bill Of Rights
In response to an odd and unlikely scenario, where passengers got stuck on the tarmac for 10 hours waiting for clearance to take off, Congress is suggesting we institute an Airline Passenger Bill Of Rights. In all honesty, considering the fact that air travel is so heavily regulated by the feds, one would think that regulating customer satisfaction would only seem natural. I would say that there are quite a few reasons, though, why this is a bad idea.
Rep. Michael Thompson, a California Democrat, said on Thursday he planned to introduce a bill that would address delayed flights, time on the tarmac, cancellations, and lost or damaged luggage.
Hanni and others want a passenger bill of rights to cap the time any delayed flight can languish on the tarmac without letting passengers get off. They also want the bill to specify compensation when airlines fail to deliver services as promised.
With our airlines constantly fighting against the spectre of bankruptcy, adding layers of potential costs due to these regulations could end up hurting us all. As with any other regulation, of course, airlines will do their best to pass the costs along to travelers. So while I can hope for a $50 voucher or something of the like as a “mea culpa” when they lose my bag for 6 hours or delay my flight, every flight will cost more to pay for this new regulation.
Remember, as with any other regulation, the bureaucrats in Washington are likely to know a lot less about the business than the airlines themselves. So if such a bill is written, one of two scenarios will occur:
1. The legislation will be written by the airline lobbyists, entrenching the major carriers while adding onerous costs to their smaller rivals, ruining competition and screwing customers with higher fares.
2. The legislation will be written by “consumer group” lobbyists, further imposing costs on carriers and making them unable to make money, screwing the airlines and screwing consumers with higher fares.
Congress is trying to “save” us travelers. I travel frequently, and every once in a while, I get delayed with a mechanical problem, weather, or lose a bag. Less frequently, something will occur weather-wise, and I’ll get stuck on the tarmac for a while. It’s annoying, but I’d rather that they spend time making sure the enormous metal tubes they send hurtling through the lower atmosphere gets where it’s going safely than whether I’ll get “compensated” for a delay.
We don’t need the government to give us an Airline Passenger Bill Of Rights. I’d prefer, in fact, that they cut down on some of their other onerous regulations on the industry, and reduce the “need” for this proposed APBOR.