Tuesday, February 20, 2007

send me the bill

in the company of strangers

There’s a lot of press today about the “Passenger’s Bill of Rights”. There’s one out there by Barbara Boxer and another one by Jet Blue, in response to an incident last week where folks were stranded for nine hours on an aircraft without food, water, or usable toilets.

A quick google fails to turn up the actual bills (I suspect they’ll be posted soon – I’ll update when they are), so I’ll recount what I heard on the radio this afternoon: Ms. Boxer is calling for a three hour limit on tarmac sitting, after which passengers may be allowed to leave the aircraft at their request if the plane has failed to go anywhere during that time. She’s also requiring that adequate food and water be stocked for the duration -- and mentioned that Jet Blue’s Bill of Rights didn’t say anything about food and water, and that they oughta.

Jet Blue, if I heard it right, is offering to compensate folks for essential supplies when their luggage has gone missing for over 24 hours. Something, too, about vouchers for late and cancelled flights, and they’re for five hours on the tarmac as the limit.

The NPR interview, with the reasonable and well loved Michelle Norris grilling Boxer about the sensibleness of this approach, struck me as close to ridiculous, if only because it never touched upon the self-evident human rights component of the equation.

To make things even more ridiculous, one of the interviewed airport-passerbys commented that all this sitting around on planes for hours was “unconstitutional”. (Probably because he’s an American, and anything that doesn’t sit well with us Americans is “unconstitutional”.)

Okay folks – time to get out your Universal Declaration of Human Rights and take a look at Article 9:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Doesn’t nine hours on the tarmac – when you’ve contracted for a quick flight to Ft. Lauderdale – count as arbitrary detention?

It's not just bad business when you start messing with human rights: it's bad karma.

Case closed. One unruly airline down; one remote Cuban outpost to go.

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