Bill of rights for airline passengers long overdue

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
April 19, 2017 - 5:00am Updated: April 19, 2017 - 5:50pm

KAMLOOPS — We all know flying economy isn’t a bed of roses at the best of times. Seats designed for short, skinny people, cramming carry-ons into the overheads, some lout beside you snoring, babies wailing. The video screen on your seatback conks out. And the food, or lack of it. We’ve all been there.

Then there’s the worst of times. That’s when the airline overbooks and tells a passenger to get off the plane, and when he doesn’t, three burly airline guys come aboard and haul him away. That’s what happened on United Airlines recently.

Then came the story of the 10-year-old kid who was bumped from an Air Canada flight to Cost Rica for a family vacay. Seriously.

There’s something just wrong about paying for a ticket, arriving on time and then being told, sorry, we’ve changed our minds about having you as a customer.

In Canada, passenger rights are bestowed by airlines on a voluntary basis, but Transport Minister Marc Garneau vows to beef them up, especially with respect to bumping.

Fortunately, there’s one ray of sunshine through the gloom that is the airline industry.

As a plane from Etihad Airways — no, I’d never heard of it, either — was taxiing for takeoff at Manchester Airport in the U.K., the pilot was told that two passengers had received a text message saying their grandson was in intensive care.

What did the pilot do? He turned the plane around, and staff unloaded the couple’s baggage and helped them back to their car so they could drive to their grandson.

That just makes you want to find somebody from Etihad Airways and give them a big hug, and fly somewhere, anywhere, with them.

Here at home we’ll simply have to wait patiently to see what the feds come up with to make airlines treat us with a little more respect. Could they do something about those awful seats, while they’re at it?

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