Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Re-regulate the airline industry?

Following stories of a harrowing 8-hour delay on the runway, calls for a "passengers' bill of rights" have once again been heard in Congress. Like many people, I'm pretty displeased with the overall level of service in the airline industry. They'll treat you like crap if some spreadsheet says that's the optimal way for them to function. So my libertarian instincts in this case are being trumped by my populism and downright annoyance with the airline industry. I should probably learn more about what's in this proposed legislation (any links would be helpful!), but lets just say I'm in a supportive mood. (Maybe calling something a "Bill of Rights" is a bit over-the-top, however.)

In general, I think the free market works best, but the market for air travel is not one where the customer has unlimited freedom to choose from different carriers. Many routes and destinations are only servieced by a few airlines. So in situations where market mechnisms don't work their magic, I think it is appropriate for government to step in and do some regulating.

Here's Amanda on Pandagon on the proposed "Passengers' Bill of Rights":
This is an idea whose time has come. The vast majority of the time that I fly, I am absolutely made miserable by delays, cancellations, and other problems. You can just tell that the poor airline employees are told that they have to be able to keep as many butts in seats on a plane when they’re running late and going to cause you to miss your connecting flight, amongst other things. Which means, much to my dismay, that you have to be aggressive with airline employees in order to make sure that you get home in a reasonable amount of time. Which I hate, because it’s not their fault at all. They’re just having to do dishonest things (like tell you that you’re totally going to make your connection or telling you the flight is going to leave any minute now when it’s definitely not going to) in order to get you to stay on.
This echoes sentiments I expresses in my "Corporations without Faces" rant: the airlines stick an overworked, disempowered flunky in your face to block your anger from landing on its rightful target (those who create the dishonest policies that lead to these annoyances).


Anonymous Sarah said...

That is a truly hellish story. What if we had been trapped on the plane for so long with little Quinn?

8:09 AM, February 06, 2007  

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