Happy Valentines Day — here’s your ice storm

By | February 13th, 2008

I realize that Valentines Day isn’t until tomorrow, but what’s 24 hours between friends? Here’s your ice storm. Here are your airport delays. It’s looking a lot like Valentines Day 2007, isn’t it?

I doubt it will be anywhere near as bad. But this is as good a time as any to ask what we’ve learned from last year’s ice storm.

JetBlue, the airline most affected by the Valentines Day storm of 2007, has a new CEO and new policies designed to stop another hostage crisis from happening. I’d call that a lesson learned.

Sadly, the incipient passenger rights movement born after the ice storm is now on life support. The most credible of the passenger rights advocates, Kate Hanni, is expected to say a few words on the one-year anniversary of the storm. But I’m not sure it will be enough.

I covered the troubles of the passenger rights movement in a recent MSNBC column and concluded that unless passengers get behind the movement now, it’s over. (Anyone who thinks a handful of “passenger rights” bills in state legislatures won’t be killed on the federal level is smoking something very illegal, and I want some.)

There’s a lesson not learned. When you have the momentum, make the changes you can now. I think passenger rights advocates spent too much time talking and squandered two seasons of free publicity. Now it’s all but too late to do anything.

And the airline industry? I hate to say this, but my hat’s off to the airlines and the Air Transport Association. They managed last year’s string of PR disasters by the book, and discovered that there’s no problem you can’t overcome by throwing either money, or lobbyists — or both — at it. If only they were on the right side of this argument.

Related story:   Did David Zucker write this airline story?

And me? I’m sitting out this ice storm out in Orlando, where it’s going to be 75 degrees today. That’s my lesson learned. Steer clear of the storm altogether.

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