The push for air passenger rights has moved from Washington to statehouses across the country after a federal judge upheld a New York state law that requires airlines to provide food, water and working restrooms to passengers stranded on grounded jets in that state.
Washington is the latest state where legislators are talking about a similar bill. State Sen. Ken Jacobsen told the Seattle Times that his personal experience inspired the legislation. "I had my epiphany on the runway: This sucks," he said
Several other states, including New Jersey, Florida and Arizona, are also talking about passenger rights. Let’s hope other states join them, and lets hope they do what the New York bill failed to do: set a hard and fast limit on the amount of time passengers may be held on a grounded aircraft against their will.
I know the industry’s objections to all this. I’ve know that aircraft that return to the gate lose their place in line for takeoff, and I have heard the message that we passengers really don’t understand how it all works.
Here’s an idea: change the way it works. Change the way slots are assigned for takeoff. Work it out. But don’t tell me that anyone without a warrant has a right to hold me against my will, that I can be forced to give up my fundamental rights for a corporation’s convenience or its bottom line.
And, yeah, I hear the airline industry complain that it can’t be expected to comply with a patchwork of different laws in different states. Maybe it would have been better to cooperate with Congress and agree to a reasonable federal law last year.
Oops. Could it be too late?