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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Flyers Rights Update

As the Department of Transportation announced that airline delays have reached record levels, Kate Hanni returned to my show for an update on legislation giving airline passengers a bill of rights.

Unfortunately, those protections aren't in place yet, and the ones that are proposed don't go far enough. They would force the airlines to give us food, water, air conditioning, and unclogged bathrooms only after we've been sitting on the tarmac for three hours -- and there's a battle over whether they should have to return to the terminal to allow us to de-plane at that point.

The DOT report says that the number of aircraft sitting on the tarmac for an extended period more than tripled from May to June -- with 462 planes parked there for at least three hours! That's 15 planes a day, every day, for a month! And how about that Continental flight on June 8th that sat on the tarmac at Newark for 383 minutes before taking off for Denver (that's longer on the ground than in the air).

Congress keeps waiting for the airlines to do something about this, but they have proven they won't, so some good consumer protections must be passed.

This seems to be an easy win for any politician. They all fly on a regular basis, and must know the frustration of having to sit on the plane with no answers and no services. Why not get behind consumers on this issue? What's the downside? I suppose it's because the public won't remember the support on election day, because this isn't a wedge issue that people vote on -- it's more important to keep gays from marrying, right? -- but why not put some realistic travel regulations in place, and then enforce them?