from an expert in the field:
Kate Hanni is executive director of the Coalition for an
Airline Passengers Bill of Rights (
APRIL DEBATE RESULTS:
Should we remove the
income tax on unemployment
In 2006 my FamIly and I were trapped in a plane on a tarmac in
austin, Texas, for more than nine hours. some 13,800 passengers were
stranded on airport tarmacs around the region that night. Passengers
had no food or water. mothers ran out of formula for their babies and
had to make diapers out of men’s T-shirts. People ran out of their medications. Toilets overflowed and were unusable. Fights broke out.
six weeks later, the same thing happened in the new york City area: the infamous Jet Blue
st. valentine’s Day debacle. and it continues. We in the Coalition for an airline Passengers Bill
of rights know because our 24/7 airline passenger hotline (1-877-Flyers- 6) gets the calls.
Callers have reported babies going unconscious from 120-degree heat and diabetics in
shock begging for orange juice. Is this humane?
Percentage reflects votes
received by April 13, 2009.
We reject arguments that the goal of our passenger rights legislation is to impose an
unfair, onerous burden on the aviation industry. our objective is not to saddle the industry
with unnecessary regulation, but rather to remedy an ongoing problem.
In the United states, an airline can hold passengers on a plane indefinitely without
providing such essentials as food, water and working lavatories. We don’t think that’s what
Congress had in mind when it passed the airline Deregulation act in 1978. our current
Congress doesn’t think so either. That is why airline passenger rights language has been written
into at least three bills in the House and senate.
since 2004, the european Union has had basic airline passenger rights laws that compen-
sate passengers for flight delays after two hours. Canada is now considering legislation that
would allow passengers to disembark after one hour on the tarmac.
all we are asking is that airlines provide for passengers’ basic human needs when they are
unexpectedly stuck in an airplane for an extended period and that after three hours passengers
have the option to get off the plane if it can be done safely. We also believe that if passengers
exercise this option, they should be entitled to a full refund of the fare in order to advocate
for themselves and find another way to their destinations.
MARCH DEBATE RESULTS:
Should animals have the
same rights as people?
YES: 8% NO: 92%
Percentage reflects votes received by
March 31, 2009. Results may reflect
Debate being picked up by blogs.
Is this really asking too much, or is it just common decency? C
from an expert in the field:
Kevin Mitchell is chairman of the Business Travel Coalition,
a travel advocacy group (
CongressIonal manDa TIng oF customer service standards in
any industry represents a dangerous precedent. In the case of the airline
industry, such legislation would increase business travel costs, stifle
innovation and raise safety issues.
Punitive, ill-conceived, election-cycle fixes will ultimately harm the
consumer and distract Congress, the Federal aviation administration
(Faa) and the airline industry from working on a comprehensive and integrated package of
some proposals currently being discussed call for penalties for cancelled flights.
Commingling financial penalties with airline operations and decisions relating to go/no-go
decisions would lead to a reduction of current safety margins.
That is not to say that passengers should not let their views be known. The first option
customers have is to give their business to airlines that are responsive to them. and many of
the proposals being discussed are responsibilities of the U.s. Department of Transportation
(Do T), which can enforce existing regulations or use the bully pulpit to effect airline policy
changes. Presently, the Faa and the airlines it oversees are largely ignoring repeated Do T
inspector general warnings about lower standards and insufficient Faa oversight of maintenance performed on U.s. aircraft by unlicensed workers in Third World countries.
We need to encourage the airline industry to put energy and leadership behind a campaign to introduce sustainable, fundamental reforms to the industry—ideas that the airline
industry could consider implementing voluntarily.
If airline passenger rights legislation were to become law, it would be added to by
members of Congress in each election cycle. every harebrained idea would end up in legislation of this sort. For example, at a 1999 hearing, one committee member said that her husband
had left a book on a plane after a recent flight. His idea was to write into law that in such a
situation it would be an airline’s responsibility to find and return the book to him, or face
financial penalties. This is a classic case of the cure being far worse than the disease! C
Opinions expressed are those of the
individuals or organizations represented
and are presented to foster discussion.
Costco and The Costco Connection take
no position on any Debate topic.