Thursday, January 25, 2007

You can always drive

Flying across the country is always an adventure. You will either have an easy flight with no delays and no lost luggage, or you get a trip from Hell. Thankfully, most of my trips haven't been bad. I did get stuck in Phoenix for a day when rain delayed a flight out of Vegas. I got stuck on the tarmac in Detroit one morning which cause me to miss a hockey game in Chicago. But I also have been lucky. I got on an earlier flight in Philadelphia rather than sitting in an airport for 5 hours. I have flown standby with no problems.

I stumbled across this article today. It really got me thinking. Is the concept of a Passenger Bill of Rights sensible or idiotic?

If you have ever been stuck on a plane sitting on the tarmac, you know how unpleasant it can be. You are in limbo. A prisoner of the airlines. They attempt to keep you informed but they do not give you enough information. When they do, it is always optimistic and never quite truthful. They will tell you the reason for the delay, maybe how much time, and when they expect to be cleared. 15 minutes later they are back on explaining how the weather is not cooperating and how the plane now needs to be de-iced and it will be another 30 minutes. If you are lucky, you are not stranded for hours sitting in that aluminum tube.

By no means should an airline be able to keep you in that plane for hours when they can return to the gate and let people off.

But there is the other side. The article points out that they can try to predict weather patterns but when they change, they can do little about it. That they keep people in the plane on the tarmac as the best chance the flight itself is not cancelled and the passengers are not stranded in that city for a day or two. Funny how you never hear that part of the argument.

Passengers think by having a bill of rights that things will suddenly get better? No, that means that they have more opportunities to sue the airlines for things that go wrong. Fact is, you do not need to fly. You can drive, take a train, how about a boat. If an airline treats you poorly, go to another one. Never fly them again. The most sensible answer is the obvious one.

Of course, if the airlines would spend a little money and put TVs in the seats of every plane, it would alleviate much of the problems they have. And give free booze when the flight is delayed. Bribery works all the time.

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