10:36 PM

We Stand,
We Sit..
and wait...
and wait

Brothers and Sisters, I come before ye today to tell of an unspeakable dilemma, one of pain, of suffering, of pretzels far too stale for the mouths of babes. Yes, I am speaking of the conditions that afflict our beloved nation, a nation of delayed airliners, of broken promises, a nation of stranded passengers.

In the mighty Congress of Ye Olde United States, the honourable Democrat Senator from California, Barbara Boxer, hath joined arm-in-arm across the dreaded aisle with the honourable Republican Senator Olympia Snowe from the Great State of Maine to put forth upon this body the "Airline Passenger Bill of Rights Act of 2007," legislation to ensure that travelers can no longer be unnecessarily trapped on airplanes for excessive periods of time or deprived of food, water or adequate restrooms.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear ye, Senator's Boxer and Snowe hath cometh to this Congress with a mighty sword, aimed at the throats of the airlines that too often hold our citizenry hostage, who lock us up, held prisoner against our will, deprived of the very sustenance we need to survive the ordeal.

O.K., enough B.S. If you've been reading the papers, you no doubt have heard about a high number of passengers trapped for hours on the tarmac of airports all over the country this Winter. From what I can gather on the Internets, this is not a new situation, only one that has come front and center because of massively increased media attention.

The Boxer/Snowe “Bill of Rights” contains a number of very sensible “clauses”, but the star of the show is this:

The legislation requires airlines to offer passengers the option of safely leaving a plane they have boarded once that plane has sat on the ground three hours after the plane door has closed. This option would be provided every three hours that the plane continues to sit on the ground. The legislation also requires airlines to provide passengers with necessary services such as food, potable water and adequate restroom facilities while a plane is delayed on the ground. There are two exceptions to the three-hour option. (1) The pilot may decide to not allow passengers to deplane if he or she reasonably believes their safety or security would be at risk due to extreme weather or other emergencies, and (2) if the pilot reasonably determines that the flight will depart within 30 minutes after the three hour period, he or she can delay the deplaning option for an additional 30 minutes.
Of course, the ATA and the airlines are spitting fire over this. And you can be sure they would really lose a lung if they had to adhere to MY version of this bill:
(Article I) If a passenger is not returned to the gate and deplaned within three hours of door closing, the airline will offer everyone aboard a brand new Eclipse 500, so they never have to deal with this crap again...

(Article II)
A lost piece of luggage means that the CEO of said airline must stop his Bentley at Brooks Brothers and/or Nordstroms and buy (a) a new set of Swiss-made luggage, and (b) fill it to the top with fine apparel...

(Article III)
Any airline that overbooks a flight will get a visit from the FAA's Death Squad who will storm the carrier's office and forcibly rip the line's Operational Certificate to shreds, grounding them forever...

(Article IV)
The Airlines will determine a seat/mile value that allows them to make a profit, and then charge each passenger the amount equal to that figure multiplied by the actual number of miles on the route...even if the ticket is bought at the counter on the day of the flight.

(Article V)
Each carrier will employ a team of Quality Assurance Officers to verify that the little bags of snacks that are passed off as “food” were manufactured in this century. Any carrier caught serving “biscotti” after 12 noon will be required to pass out Hooters gift certificates to any passengers who demand them.
There you have it, a real Bill in the Senate worth it's weight in Gold, and my own, which is pure horse poop. But you get the idea...we need to reign in the airlines and bring some degree of sanity back to air travel.

Or, we can all buy our own planes and solve the problem for good. I'll bet the airlines might have an “attitude adjustment” in five years when 1,000s of those high rolling pax who used to fly first-class are sipping bubbly in the back of their own PJ, VLJ or LJ. Having a bunch of really plush but very empty seats in the front of their airplanes might get their attention in a way that hundreds of screaming passengers trapped for hours in a rank, stinking tube cannot.

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