Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, and the government will step in with a new Passenger Bill of Rights. And in actuality, this is exactly what happened to the airlines on Thursday. After giving U.S. carriers several opportunities to rectify the poor treatment passengers were receiving, the government has had enough and is disciplining the bad children.
The House of Representatives has approved a new $68 billion bill that would force the country’s airlines and airports to take care of delayed passengers by providing food, water, and basic amenities. The plan would require airlines to deplane passengers after excessive delays, and airlines could be penalized for not adhering to the new standards.
The White House responded with a veto threat, saying the bill “falls short” of administration proposals to modernize the air-traffic control system to reduce delays. The White House was also against raising aviation fuel taxes to pay for the new investment.
As the bill makes its way to becoming a law, expect the debate to grow. Many people see this as the airlines finally getting the spanking they deserve, while others worry the increased taxes and stricter policies could mean higher fares and fewer flights.
From my perspective, if you’ve never been crammed for hours on a plane with strangers, poor ventilation, no food or drink, and no explanation as to why you’re stuck, then you might not understand the importance of the government’s taking action. But let’s not forget, the airlines had their chance to improve conditions—but like mischievous children, they ignored them.