Now, with few choices of carriers, and airline employees squeezed over pay and benefits, the only people left to bleed are customers.
Last summer we saw several flight diversions due to 'unruly' airline passengers arguing over reclining seats, which has actually spawned a new industry.
Securicare , a UK based company produces a special seat restraint device and provides security training to airlines, to subdue "challenging, disruptive and violent passengers".
The space squeeze
As airlines pack more people and profit into planes, lack of space is only the latest frustration for travelers already frazzled from TSA hassles, charges for checked baggage, food, seat assignments, in-flight entertainment and other once-included services.
Such moves have led industry profits to near-record levels. But have they pushed passengers to a breaking point?
Cramming too many people into too tiny spaces for too long so they explode isn't the only danger. In case of a fire or emergency landing, more people will die because they can't get out of their seats, down the aisle, and out of the airplane in time.
So unless you're willing to pay a ransom for Business or First Class seats, be prepared to feel squeezed, starved, and fleeced.
FlyersRights believes regulations make sense for minimum leg room, limiting extra charges for "luxuries" like taking a bag with you when traveling and requiring food on board flights lasting longer than four hours.
"But that will raise the cost of air fares!"
Probably. But those "cheap" fares advertised are just tricks. When you factor in the extra bag charges, the fees if you try to book on the phone, or try to change or cancel a flight, the the price of food you have to buy, the price of lost hours when there's nospare plane when there's a mechanical problem or your flight's forced to land owing to a passenger dispute - not to mention the value of your life when you burn to death inside an airplane because there's no way all the sardines can get out fast enough.
If a single price covered matters like food and baggage that used to included automatically, and if Congress keeps an eye on fares, prices aren't likely to rise so much that you'd wish you'd gambled your life instead.
Your Congressmember's in charge of this stuff. Here's a list:
So, who on the House Subcommittee on aviation has the spine to stand up and say, "Yes, let's re-regulate the airlines so they can't treat passengers like cattle?"Who isn't in the pockets of the airlines they supposedly oversee? Let's start with the Republican majority of 16, who could make it happen, if they wanted, without a single Democrat's vote:
How about you?....
Chairman Frank A. LoBiondo, of New Jersey
Tom Petri, of Wisconsin
Howard Coble, of North Carolina
John J. Duncan, of Tennessee
Tom Graves, of Georgia
Blake Farenthold, of Texas
Larry Bucshon, of Indiana
Patrick Meehan, of Pennsylvania
Daniel Webster, of Florida
Jeff Denham, of California
Reid Ribble, of Wisconsin
Thomas Massie, of Kentucky
Steve Daines, of Montana
Roger Williams, of Texas
Mark Meadows, of North Carolina
Rodney Davis, of Illinois
What say you?
While the Republicans on the committee outnumber the Democrats 16-13, rendering Democratic votes useless, there are still things the Democrats can do. Your Republican colleagues certainly have favorite projects and other favors they'd like to secure for their patrons. So by delaying and obstructing expenditures for their pet programs as long as possible, you might be able to get their attention.
So how about a minority member revolt from Democrats?... Rick Larsen of Washington Peter A. DeFazio, of Oregon Eleanore Holmes Norton of DC Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas Michael E. Capuano of Massachusetts Dan Lipinski of Illinois Steve Cohen of Tennessee Andre Carson of Indiana Rick Nolan of Minnesota Dina Titus of Nevada Sean Patrick Maloney of New York Cheri Bustos of Illinois Corrine Brown of Florida
What say you?
Let's give all these Congressloafers a kick. You might start by copying this piece into an e-mail and addressing it to one of the committee members in your own state. You can find their e-mail address here.
We are commited to solutions for promoting airline passenger policies that forward first and foremost the safety of all passengers while not imposing unrealistic economic burdens that adversely affect airline profitability or create exhorbitant ticket price increases.
All American air carriers shall abide by the following standards to ensure the safety, security and comfort of their passengers:
Establish procedures to respond to all passenger complaints within 24 hours and with appropriate resolution within 2 weeks.
Notify passengers within ten minutes of a delay of known diversions, delays and cancellations via airport overhead announcement, on aircraft announcement, and posting on airport television monitors.
Establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gate when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate.
Provide for the essential needs of passengers during air- or ground-based delays of longer than 3 hours, including food, water, sanitary facilities, and access to medical attention.
Provide for the needs of disabled, elderly and special needs passengers by establishing procedures for assisting with the moving and retrieving of baggage, and the moving of passengers from one area of airport to another at all times by airline personnel.
Publish and update monthly on the company’s public web site a list of chronically delayed flights, meaning those flight delayed thirty minutes or more, at least forty percent of the time, during a single month.
Compensate “bumped” passengers or passengers delayed due to flight cancellations or postponements of over 12 hours by refund of 150% of ticket price.
The formal implementation of a Passenger Review Committee, made up of non-airline executives and employees but rather passengers and consumers – that would have the formal ability to review and investigate complaints.
Make lowest fare information, schedules and itineraries, cancellation policies and frequent flyer program requirements available in an easily accessed location and updated in real-time.
Ensure that baggage is handled without delay or injury; if baggage is lost or misplaced, the airline shall notify customer of baggage status within 12 hours and provide compensation equal to current market value of baggage and its contents.
Require that these rights apply equally to all airline code-share partners including international partners.