Bend, Ore.: Anyone who has flown enough times can tell you about the airlines mishandling something — baggage, scheduling, delays and now, even the right to sit safely in the seat you purchased (“Lawyer says man dragged off plane has concussion, lost teeth,” April 10).
While this incident was particularly horrifying, the most terrifying thing is that it is not the least bit uncommon. When Dr. Dao refused to get out of the seat that he rightfully purchased, he voiced the real frustration and anger felt by over 40,000 passengers nationwide who are “bumped” off their flights every year. The only difference is that while many travelers resign themselves to their miserable treatment, when this passenger took a stand he was physically assaulted and removed from the plane.
The plain and simple truth is that the airlines act this way because they can. With only four airlines controlling 70% of domestic flights in the United States, airlines increasingly have more power and are raking in record profits and customers increasingly have fewer choices. And what do the airlines do with this power and profits? They decimate already weary passengers with endless fees for everything under the sun, squeeze every ounce of space from passengers’ seats, and now they throw you out of your seat if someone more important shows up. They also refuse to invest in the dilapidated technical infrastructure that fails and breaks down at least once a month, stranding thousands. So there is a good chance they won’t even get you to your destination in any reasonable amount of time and you’ll be lucky to even get a refund for the fee you paid for them to send your bag to the other side of the country.
As if all of this wasn’t bad enough, the airlines want more. They are slowly and slyly pushing back every consumer protection and they are even lobbying to take over our air traffic control system, so they can control and manipulate every aspect of your air travel experience for their benefit.
It’s time to put Congress back in the driver’s seat and require more oversight and regulation of the big airlines. When we put the airlines in control, we see what happens over and over. Enough is enough. Kate Hanni, founder, Flyers Rights