Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Unintended Consequences #2

This is from the Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2010, page D1. There have been a lot of reports of really awful situations in which airlines, facing weather or other delays, keep flyers on the tarmac rather than returning them to the gate where they could a) eat and relax, but also b) cancel or reschedule flights, and so forth. So the U.S. Department of Transportation has issued rules than say that airlines can be fined $27,500 per passenger when such confinement lasts more than three hours. That sounds good; with my love/hate relationship with flying, I would be climbing the walls (?) if I were trapped on a runway for four hours. But, there is a cost. Airlines, following the announcement of the new penalties, have been much more aggressive in canceling flights. This was in evidence during this winter's bad weather. I think that this could actually be a good thing. I would rather know in advance that I need to delay travel than wait for hours on a runway and then have to return to the gate. But apparently many travelers have a different opinion. In any even, this is the "unintended consequence" of the week.

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