Pity the folks who have to figure out what a passenger bill of rights should — and shouldn’t — include. As if JetBlue’s entry into the fray yesterday wasn’t confusing enough (after all, why would an airline advocate for its customers unless it had a hidden agenda?) it turns out there are lots and lots of proposed bills.
Here are the highlights …
One of the earliest attempts is the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights introduced by Congressman Pete Stark in 1989, just over a decade after the airlines were deregulated. I wonder what Rep. Stark’s position is on the latest bill?
Ten years later, the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights Act of 1999 tried — and failed — again. This one, sponsored by Congressman Bud Shuster, was more ambitious than the first. Again, it’s unclear if Mr. Shuster is supporting the current proposed legislation.
And since that went nowhere, we had the Airline Customer Service Improvement Act in 2001, a Senate Bill that was introduced by now-presidential candidate John McCain. The bill wasn’t as far-reaching as the ’99 effort, but it tanked nonetheless. (A related House bill failed that same year.)
Would Mr. McCain turn airline passenger rights into an election-year issue? I wouldn’t hold my breath.
We also have several private proposals. The most significant ones, as far as I can tell, are the one proposed by the Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights, a grassroots organization, and by the American Society of Travel Agents.
Confused yet? Well, take a number.
Someone, somewhere is going to need to review all of these proposals and incorporate all of them into a new law that works.
Whoever it is, I wish you the best of luck.