Congressional Airline Hearings are Political Theater
This morning, a woman on TV was saying Congress is holding hearings about airline travel.
Like the hearings involving oil companies the executives are chewed out as part of the show, but remember they provide oodles of campaign cash
This follows recent high profile stories where a man was dragged screaming from a United Airlines flight. A week later, a woman apparently got smacked with a baby stroller by an American Airlines attendant and the baby barely escaped getting swatted. You’d think Simon Legree had assumed corporeal form and was in charge of flight.
Here’s my take and I’ve partially shared thoughts on-air. The screaming man later settled with an airline worried about public perception, but he violated a contract. His ticket says he can be bumped from flying if the airline needs a seat or seats. Americans like living without responsibility but contract law is clear. In the stroller case, we only see after-the-fact and because the attendant looks like Curly Howard, we assume the worst.
These periodic Congressional hearings allow members to grandstand for the folks back home, but ignore realities. Like the hearings involving oil companies, the executives are chewed out as part of the show, but remember they provide oodles of campaign cash for those sitting on the committee panel. The airlines can also grease the palms of a sweaty Representative or Senator. This is theater. It makes great TV and politicians can portray themselves as champions of the people.
At the moment, in real dollar terms, the price of flying and the cost of fuel are about the lowest they’ve ever been. The cost of air-travel compared to what it was 40 years ago is a bargain. It’s because we give the people providing the service great leeway in business decisions compared to where we were in 1975. Don’t let a few sobbing passengers mess up a good thing!