Friday, July 31, 2009

Stuck in committee in the capitol city
(but better than on a plane)

Other than politicians and real estate agents, is there anyone easier to vilify than the airline people? It's doubtful. I'm not one to kick a man while he's down, but I have some bad feelings about how some airlines do business, i.e., dubiously, and I shan't decorously stifle them any longer. (Wait, what is this feeling? Is it concern? Political concern? Is some dormant interest awakening in this prematurely disaffected political curmudgeon? Also doubtful.)

In any case, I don't plan for this to be a rant. I won't even belabor how annoying it is that you have to pay for a bit of water on most flights. There are real irritations and injustices to complain about – people stuck on airplanes for hours and hours, overbooking, unfair bumping, deceptive "on time" techniques, route cancellations.... I'm pretty sure the personal anecdotes on this topic are infinite. Not to mention the price-fixing, trust-like actions we may or may not ever hear about.

Some may continue to give airline companies the benefit of the doubt – blame it on weather, costs, regulations, etc. I think I understand it is difficult to work with so many restrictions. But at some point one must wonder why policies that lead to such vexing and at times inhumane situations have continued. Such terrible service is unamerican! Seriously.

The EU's provision for Air Passenger's Rights has been functioning for years now. The market has not imploded. You can still fly very cheaply between most cities. Bathrooms are still free. And sometimes you still get sandwiches. Dignity intact.

HR915, a bill that just passed the House this spring and is in a Senate committee at the moment, is attempt to rectify some of these problems (though focuses more the inhumanity and inconvenience than the lack of sandwiches). Because I am so fair and balanced, I provide also for your review the GOP cheat sheet, which suggests some good reasons to be disagreeable.

In case you didn't do an internship for Dick Durbin, you should know it's a long, long wait while it's sitting in committee (more on that process here). The committee here would be the Senate Committee for Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The showdown between John D. Rockefeller IV and Kay Bailey Hutchinson should be thrilling. It's not actually clear to me when or if this bill will actually be debated in committee, but it's good to know it's come so far.

My favorite part of the bill, by the way, is Section 41724, which outlaws "voice communications using mobile communication devices" on the plane. Perhaps there is some humanity left out there. Perhaps the political system does work. We'll see.


Helpful Travel Agent said...

Swiss Ms.,

If only this bill had been passed before you booked your flight home, you could have confidence in your ability to get from A to B with your dignity in hand!

Swiss Ms. said...

I thought helpful travel agents were extinct?

Helpful Travel Agent said...

Your words are so cold Swiss Ms. With an attitude like that you will never get a free upgrade on a future Bahamas cruise.