Air Transport Association Softening On Passenger Rights?

As an airline passenger bill of rights inches closer to approval, a report in Business Travel News reveals that the Air Transport Association may be amenable to a time limit for keeping passengers on grounded planes, an idea it has been fighting off for years.

Of course, the Air Transport Association has seen much of its support collapse on this issue. Organizations representing travel agents and business travelers have been switching sides left and right. Suddenly nobody seems to back the ATA on its stubborn insistence that its members have some inaliable right to hold their customers hostage merely because they finds it more convenient than letting them get off a plane to walk around like citizens in a free society.

Business Travel News, offering far deeper reporting on this story than most news outlets, has the interesting detail that Robert Rivkin, general counsel at the Department of Transportation, revealed in an email that top ATA officials “might be prepared to agree” to a time limit.

Really? And so what? Why is the Air Transport Association’s agreement required, or even sought?

If the ATA wants to pretend that this was what it wanted all along, fine. But if the airline industry thinks it can start to play nice and get this bill watered down, so that a three-hour limit becomes four and a firm requirement becomes a guideline, I hope that’s not going to happen. I hope our Congress has more guts and integrity than that.

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