Friday, February 16, 2007

Equal Time Radio Blog: Jet Blues

February 16, 2007

Jet Blues

by Mirth

Leaving aside all the heavy-duty issues of our criminal government and war and death, let’s talk about business. Y’know, companies who have a product or service to sell to us. I’m not anti-business. Our country’s economy depends on a healthy business climate. They produce what we need or want and we buy it and they make their profit to produce more stuff for us and we’re all happy. Right? Just keep government out of it and let the marketplace decide which companies will thrive and which will fail. We’ll stay hungry consumers, but we’ll use the power of our dollars to force ethical business standards and quality products. Honorable businesses will rise to the top like sweet cream and those that cause harm will fail.

Ok, I’m joshing ya.

What got me thinking about this is the recent incident with Jet Blue. Compared to what we know about all the greed and corruption of business it is a small thing, but it is an every day sort of thing in that it was people just wanting to get from one place to another and thus it’s worth looking at.

Jet Blue’s planes at JFK International Airport were grounded because of icy weather. Like past examples of other airlines, rather than letting their passengers return to the comfort of the terminal Jet Blue held them hostage for 11 hours on a plane without a working air cleaning system and barely functioning toilets and with only salty pretzels for food. Why? Well, basically because they can do whatever the hell they want to do.

From the Associated Press:
After being stuck for 11 hours on a parked airplane during a snow and ice storm, JetBlue passengers found out there’s nothing they can do about it. There are no government regulations limiting the time an airline can keep passengers on grounded aircraft.
The airlines’ voluntary code of conduct simply says that during such extraordinary delays, they will make “reasonable efforts” to meet passenger needs for food, water, restroom facilities and medical assistance…
…In the late 1990s, the nation’s 14 largest airlines joined forces to block a drive by Congress to enact legal protections for passengers, changes that were sought after a series of flight cancellations and delays.
Instead, the airlines agreed to an Airline Customer Service Commitment and incorporated it in their customer agreements, called “conditions of carriage,” which are legally enforceable by the customer against the airline…
…The airlines, though, didn’t agree to limit the amount of time they could keep people inside airplanes that aren’t going anywhere.

From this article we learn that one Democrat in Congress, James Oberstar of MN, has publically blamed the Transportation Department for failing to enforce the customer service standards. Another Democrat, Barbara Boxer of CA, will introduce a bill that will give passengers the right to get off an airplane if it’s on the ground for more than 3 hours.

It’s a start. However, I don’t know about you but I’m not being held hostage on a plane for even three hours and if you want to tell Ms. Boxer you feel the same way you can let her know here. You can tell Jet Blue what you think about their Customer Service Committment here.

For a more serious look at business and our government, this story will make you wanna hollah…and I hope you do: Unionizing bill advances; Cheney threatens veto

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