Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Air Rights

Interesting story out of Minnesota. Continental Airlines passengers diverted to Rochester, Minnesota in the middle of the night "were kept waiting nearly six hours inside the cramped regional airliner amid wailing babies and a smelly toilet even though they were only 50 yards from a terminal." Despite repeated pleas from the captain of the flight, employees of another airline in the terminal, Mesaba, refused to open it to the stranded passengers. Continental was fined $50,000 and the other airline, Mesaba, was fined $75,000 by the Department of Transportation, a first for the Department.

I hope the FAA starts handing out these fines like Snickers on Halloween. How is it that airlines believe they have some superior right to imprison people in a titanium tube for as long as they want? Oh, wait, that thinking is coming from the same geniuses who ran those companies into the ground (no pun intended). If it's the result of goofy FAA regulations, then those regulations must be fixed.

At any rate, and despite industry moaning, an airline passengers bill of rights undoubtedly is long overdue and necessary. I'd suggest we reach out to our own Frank Wolf, a member of the House Transportation Subcommittee, to lead the charge. He only has one of the nation's largest airports in his district, for Pete's sake. In the meantime, I sure wouldn't fly Mesaba.

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