Will Durst Will Durst, 3/4/2007 [Archive]

Passenger Bill of Rights

Passenger Bill of Rights

Raging Moderate, by Will Durst

Due to a spate of recent negative publicity, the airline industry has embarked on a public relations blitz aimed at reversing the public's perception that flight service has sunk to the level of a winged Greyhound with holes in the floorboards. Good luck. I can't believe it took this long for people to finally flip out, because over the last couple of years we frequent flyers have become so accustomed to being treated like fleshy baggage that some of us have spontaneously sprouted handles.

JetBlue blamed their meltdowns on weather and overtaxed computers, but its problems are endemic of an industry that routinely treats its customers like mushrooms; kept in the dark and fed an especially fertile form of compost (in lieu of in-flight meals). And it takes a threat by Congress to pass a legislated passenger bill of rights to goose the industry into running around promoting a series of noncompulsory and voluntary programs whose implementation will last about as long as an igloo concession in the Gobi Desert. They've pulled this penitentiary wool over our eyes before and will continue to just as long as they can convince us that they are concerned about anything but their bottom line.

You know the dance. An in-house publicist strides purposely to a podium and solemnly announces the airline is 'really, really sorry and promises to try harder and will do everything in their power to make sure something like this or that or whatever happened never happens again. Ever. Honest.' And if it does, tough. Just stay out of their face, mister, and don't try complaining to a gate agent or they'll summon security so fast it'll make your head swim. Shockingly, they're a bit vague about specifics, but this I can assure you: the changes will be cosmetic and about as effective as a rope handle on a shovel or a colander constructed out of 2x4s or a parka with the pockets filled with pudding. Here's a few of the rumored service improvements members of the seven-mile club can expect to see coming to a jetway near you.

•After a plane is stranded for a minimum of six hours of tarmac delay, first class male passengers are allowed to use coach-class bulkheads as urinals.

•From this day on, corporate policy mandates that gate personnel will respond to questions about departure delays with an indecisive shrug instead of a condescending sneer.

•Flight attendants will no longer shriek at passengers 'suck sand and die' without first flashing trademark friendly sky smile.

•Gravel used to fill headrests to be pounded into pea-sized fragments instead of marble-sized fragments.

•Once departure delay passes four-hour mark, liquor will be poured directly into passengers' mouths at a 10% discount.

•Airsick bags are now double lined and minty fresh.

•Emergency-exit information cards will soon feature four-color illustrations of Cajun artist Rodrigue's lovable Blue Dog.

•Seatbacks to recline a full 13/16 of an inch instead of previous 3/4 of an inch.

•Crying children under age of four will be sequestered in overhead compartments.

•Luggage is certified to no longer arrive late and at a destination other than yours. Now you're guaranteed one or the other.

•Reading lamps will be repositioned to focus on your seat partner's knees rather than your seat partner's feet.

Comic, writer, actor, former radio talk-show host and sod farmer Will Durst is a 1k flyer on United.

Copyright© 2007 Will Durst, distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate. Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. See www.willdurst.com for additional information on Will's performance schedule and listen to his twice-weekly commentaries @audible.com/willdurst. E-mail Will at durst@caglecartoons.com.

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