Editorial: Shame on airlines for trying to block basic consumer protections

In what other industry can a business wreck your things, not give you what you paid for?

In what other industry can a business wreck your things, not give you what you paid for, and still have any customers?

No other industry we can think of leaves customers with so few rights as the airline industry. And the federal government’s attempt to give the flying public some more power has been immediately challenged by the airlines. And the new regulations are pretty basic: up to $2,400 if you’re bumped from a flight and up to $2,100 for lost or damaged luggage.

Let’s examine these two things, shall we?

Airlines are notorious for overbooking flights. They do this because they want to ensure as many people on board a flight as possible, so they book more than they have seats for, assuming there will be cancellations or no-shows. This can leave people who have booked and paid for flights left at the boarding gate, sometimes for long stretches of time, until the airline has another plane going their way. Too bad if you had plans on the other end. It’s a practice we don’t think should be allowed. If airlines are worried about costs, they can mitigate any potential losses through stand-by seats and cancellation policies, not on the backs of air travellers.

As to the second point, ever noticed that more and more people are trying to squeeze everything they need for their trip into the biggest possible carry-on bag? Often with a huge purse and possibly laptop case as well, to maximize their allowable cabin luggage. It’s become an epidemic. Sometimes staff are even forced to make sure carry-ons don’t exceed the size limit. In some cases they have even had to tell people they must check these bags, even if they are the acceptable size, just because of space issues. It seems reasonable to assume that at least some of the reason is because a lot of people don’t want to let their luggage out of their sight, worried about what will happen to it in the hands of the airline and airport. Will they ever see it again? Will they see it for the duration of their trip? Will it arrive with everything they packed still inside and undamaged? Some decide it’s not worth the risk.

Some basic compensation seems little to ask if your things get damaged or lost while under the airline’s care. It also seems little to ask that you get some kind of compensation if you can’t get on your plane.

It’s even less to ask that if you’re stuck in a plane on the tarmac for hours that you’re provided with air conditioning, food and water (astonishingly, this has not always been the default).

Shame on the airlines for trying to block this consumer protection.

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