Passenger Bill of Rights
Let's start by saying that flyers have very few rights. Most of us think that if a snowstorm delays our flight, the airlines owe us something, like a hotel room or at least a meal. Not true. Now, sometimes they do deliver a few perks, but, technically, about the only things airlines must do is pay us if they lose a piece of luggage and bribe us with a free ticket or some cash if they overbook a flight.
Now comes Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, and Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, with a new passenger bill of rights. Among what most airlines would consider heretical proposals are these:
When I talked to Senator Wyden about it, he told me he and his colleagues have a couple of gripes with the airlines.
Well, the senator is right, but then again, there are usually a few grocery stores around. Sometimes there's only one flight at the right time to the place you need to go. So you quickly forget that bargain basement fare and accept a higher one.
Does any of this bill of rights have a chance of passing? Well, the part about being told why a flight is canceled or delayed is possible. The number of award seats? Maybe, but that number changes all the time. Telling passengers they're being booked on a flight already full? That could pass, though the airlines will fight it. Telling you what everybody else is paying on the plane? Wow. That would revolutionize the business. Which is why it probably won't happen.
There was one thing I wish the senators had included on their wish list: That when they announce sales, airlines print the round-trip price instead of a one-way fare with small print saying "round-trip purchase required."
Now, that would be a giant step forward.
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