James C. May, president and CEO of the Air Transport Association (ATA), continued to speak out against the "Passenger Bill of Rights" concept in testimony April 20, 2007 before the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Recent delays (excessive delays!) where passengers sat in aircraft on the ground for hours have led some to call for a "Passenger Bill of Rights" that seeks to prevent the recurrence of such events. Some elected officials have further acted to legislate such a Bill of Rights. In his testimony, May stated:
No passenger likes a delayed flight, but what they like even less is not being able to get to their destinations at all... The proposed hard limit on ground delays will force airlines to inconvenience planeloads of people to satisfy the demand of just one passenger to deplane. We do not think this is good customer service.He went on to say:
Congress cannot legislate good weather or the best way to respond to bad weather because every situation is unique. Instead, we call on Congress to reduce flight delays by authorizing the transformation to a satellite-based ATC system that will help relieve the traffic jam in our skies that frustrates millions of passengers each year. We cannot allow the FAA to be the administrator of inconvenience.In general, if natural (market) forces can control a given situation, then legislation designed to accomplish the same will, at best, match the natural force. The greater likelihood, however, is that the legislated solution will under-perform the natural force.
Here we have consumers making market choices, no? If some airline keeps me captive for 6 hours on the ground, I'm likely to select another carrier the next time. And the time after that, and after that. That should be enough pressure.
Or am I being too simple minded?
ATA News Release: ATA Says Passenger Bill Will Not Improve Customer Service