Airline Antics

Citizen Wealth Financial Justice

Albuquerque    Anyone who has flown recently knows something about the class divisions that are being strapped into the plane seats with the passengers.  I’m not talking just about the fares.  Almost everything is being tilted towards first class and the creation of various forms of steerage where people are forbidden to bring anything aboard the plane whatsoever.  I use the word “tilt,” advisedly, because increasingly seats in steerage, where most of us sit, don’t tilt at all, but because we’re all squeezed in like sardines and the legroom is measured increasingly in centimeters rather than inches, many flyers may not have noticed, particularly because the cost of flying has not decreased with the service.  Airlines are enjoying record profitability currently.

Passengers have few rights, and, shockingly, it now seems those thin reeds are in danger of being pulled away from us as well as the Department of Transportation (DOT) under Elaine Chao (married to Senate Majority leader, Mitch O’Connell) is supervising a review of many of Obama-era protections.  Much of this examination is behind the ground level fog machine that is being pushed by the airlines over the alleged abuse of flying service animals.  The media eats this up like candy, because the animals run the extend of the menagerie including snakes, turtles and peacocks in addition to the classic, best friend dog.  Part of this is a transparent scam since some passengers are trying to beat the fee for carrying pets by claiming them as comfort and service animals.

Airlines will tighten this down, but the real show is behind the zoo where airlines are lobbying fiercely to get rid of important protections.  The examples include the 24-hour grace period to correct mistakes in booking which is critical.  In the world of on-line booking – which saves airlines money since they are subcontracting reservations and booking to the consumers for free rather than paying for the staff time – errors are routine.  Few of us have not had a leg-slapping, cursing moment when we discovered we had typed the wrong date or misread PM for AM and vice versa.  Don’t say that it’s only me!

According to reports in the Wall Street Journal, airlines are also pushing to eliminate penalties for stranding passengers for hours on the tarmac and they don’t want to have honor fares when they make a mistake.  They also want to charge for wheelchair service.  Geez!

Airlines are making billions by nickeling and diming their passengers for food, baggage, and even seat selection, but why should they be allowed to use their customers as their own private runway to more billions by sweet talking the DOT?   Unfortunately for the nation’s millions of flyers, President Trump also once owned an unsuccessful airline.  We’re in trouble now for sure with no clear path to a safe landing.