Airline Industry Needs a Govt. Czar to Clean It Up

Who isn’t struck by the speed in which Ron Bloom, who leads the White House’s auto industry task force, spear-headed rapid restructuring of the auto industry.

By anyone’s account, he forced on GM and Chrysler, and by extension Ford, restructuring and reform that would have taken a decade to get done without Chapter 11. Sure, some people, like dealers and laid off employees, are hurt. But it had to be done. It was done fast. And we will be the better for a coherent, logical auto industry set up to make money.

Now, let it be so for the miserable airline industry. Ask Mr. Bloom to put together a task force, and let’s use the authority of the White House and FAA to force reforms on the industry to speed air travel and treat consumers (voters) like people again.

I’d like to be on that task force. And here is a start:

1. Spirit Air has a helluva nerve charging me $12 to reserve a coach seat. After I joined their $9 fare club? And I have a frequent flyer account. I get charged $12 to reserve just a regular seat? Not an exit row. Not a plussed up seat with more foot-room. Just a coach seat, one of the ones they held back from earlier booking just so they could soak people like me another $12. Since when is the seat extra? This is the most nonsensical, off-putting practice you people have come up with yet. Spirit isn’t the only one doing it. No more.

2 Last summer, I understood why the airlines were charging extras to make up for higher fuel costs. But the sky-high fuel costs are long gone. And still we are being soaked with extra fees. No more extra fees for checked luggage unless oil is above $100 per barrel.

3. I go through the whole security check, extra wanding, etc. because I have a knee replacement. Under no circumstances should such people as me be subjected to a second, random search and screening at the gate. One full-body grope is enough thank you.

4. Have someone count the carry-on bags that are going on the plane, so we can skip the nonsense of people lugging more bags on the plane than it will carry, and then having to fight their way back up to the front to gate-check a bag before the plane can take off.

5. Future planes must be designed so that a standard carry-on bags can fit wheels in or out on both sides of the plane.

6. If my ipod is really going to interfere with the plane’s instruments during take off and landing, the damned plane isn’t really air worthy. Let’s all just admit that.

7. Charge people $5 for bringing their own stinky fast food aboard.

8. Now we can’t stow anything in the seat-backs? Forget that.

9 Attendants must do a better job of hustling people aboard and into their seats and immediately recognizing when a carry-on is too big for the overhead bins. Attendants get penalized if they let bags on that don’t fit, and get rewarded for getting people seated within a certain time from when the gate opens.

10. Board people this way—all window seats first, middle seats second, aisle seats last.

11. Make all TSA security procedures national. Now, some airports require the belt to come off, but not all airports. Some, but not all airports, say you can’t put stuff like wallet and cellphone inside shoes when the shoes go through the screener. Make it all uniform across the country, so there are no surprises.

12. For pete’s sake, profile. The grandma from Ann Arbor in the wheel-chair is not packing an explosive in her leg brace. Stop wasting our time by checking people who in a million years wouldnt be doing something bad. A woman who can be over-powered by a parakeet is not a risk.

13. This is just the beginning of how I would reform the airlines. Feel free to ad your own suggestions for the next Airline Czar.

14. Right now, people are made to go through a truly idiotic exercise. If their checked bag is overweight, they are charged big fees...$50, $90...depending on the airline. So, a person, while at the counter is compelled to rifle their bag, and....wait for it...transfer the stuff to their carry on. Huh? It's a weight thing, right? So, I am putting stuff from one bag to another, going on the same plane. Irritates customers and holds up the line. It begs the question: if I am in an elevator, and it's falling, and I jump up at the last moment before impact, don't I really just fall a few inches?

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