Don't Regulate Unfriendly Skies

Forget campaign finance reform: there's one issue that politicians on both sides of the aisle know will score them big points in the next election-airlines.

Hating them, that is.

With nerve-wracking flight experiences from Spring Break still fresh in our minds, many of the pending congressional proposals to regulate airline customer service may seem long overdue. Most of these proposals have to do with legislating the "rights" of air passengers-which could be anything from requiring airlines to provide more complete information about flight delays, to mandating the number of peanuts that should be served per person.

But before Congress nudges Northwest to give you a full can of soda on your next flight (oh, and also give you a dirt-cheap fare for that trip to Fiji), we must ask a much more fundamental question. Do Americans have a "right" to good service on airlines, or even a right to air travel at all?

Clearly, the answer is no. People do not have any sort of fundamental right to take private transportation. I have no right to go Greyhound, just as I do not have any sort of right to good service in a restaurant.

So why then does Congress want to re-regulate the airline industry just 22 years after it was deregulated?

The issue, in my mind at least, stems from many people's feeling that they are totally at the mercy of airlines when flying.

I have experienced this feeling on any number of occasions. Returning from a trip on Sunday, even, Northwest Airlines refused to issue a boarding pass for one of my blockmates who I was traveling with, even though we had reconfirmed our tickets and requested seat assignments days before the actual flight. We had done everything right and followed all the rules, so how could they prevent one of us from flying?


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