PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Is there anything worse than air travel? From the cramped seats to the lack of snacks to the $200 change fees? And I haven’t mentioned the TSA. Don’t get me started on the TSA.
The recent United Airlines debacle whereby a passenger was forcibly dragged out of a seat he paid for proves two things: 1) The airlines view us as cattle and 2) we want the lowest fare possible so we really don’t care. Let’s face it, given the treatment of that passenger, we should all be boycotting United. The idea that you can be forced to give up a seat you paid for, but if you want to give up that same seat you lose your money, shows how little power we consumers have in the airline marketplace.
It’s definitely a result of less competition. There are only a handful of major carriers left to choose from unless you want to fly a bargain airline and pay extra to breath. You probably don’t like what United did to this guy, but if you can get a deal to fly your family of six to Disney and save a few hundred bucks, tell me you won’t be putting in your frequent flyer number.
We’ve become so accustomed to the airlines treating us like cattle that they have stopped giving a damn. Was United technically within their rights to bump this guy and have him removed? Yes. But in a rational free market, a business would not want a passenger dragged off its plane for fear of public relations backlash. But between lack of competition and our newfound “comply or else” mentality, airlines know there will be very little consequences in the marketplace.
Since we all apparently live in constant fear of terrorists, we have allowed our government to treat us like wolves in sheep’s clothing once we enter the airport. Our government is unwilling to profile, so if they have to touch the inner thighs of a 10 year old whose laptop set off an alarm, so be it. We’ve traded liberty for security and it’s not very fun. So now by extension, private airlines are quasi government actors.
All a flight attendant has to do is say a passenger is misbehaving and they are instantly treated like Muhammed Ata. That’s the rub of why this doctor was dragged off. Say “unruly passenger,” and watch the long arm of the law respond almost instantly. Then the “comply or else” mentality kicks in and in our liberty is further crushed.
Why do we put up with this?
The American spirit was based in rebellion. Our founders fought a revolution over the price of their morning tea. Since 9/11 we have allowed air travel to become one of the most unpleasant aspects of modern life. Everything around us improves yet air travel gets worse and worse. The airlines don’t seem to care. The TSA doesn’t seem to care. Worse, we the people don’t seem to care.
Comply, or else! But at least get the lowest fare possible.