By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a familiar cycle – an outrageous indignity is inflicted on a customer by an industry subject to regulation by Congress, as most industries are.

Politicians hear the public outcry, and rush out legislation aimed at preventing future occurrences.

Problem solved, right?


In the wake of the now-infamous forcible removal of a United Airlines passenger by airport security, two U.S. senators, including Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, have filed a bill requiring airlines to be more transparent about their policies and more customer-friendly in how they treat passengers in situations like that.

That’s all fine, but the bill they filed does nothing to address the core of the problem – man’s inhumanity to man.

The economics of a business may prompt that business to do things, like overbooking flights, that may result in customer disruption. If they prioritize respect for the customer, chances are they will adapt in ways that minimize harm, not exacerbate it.

But it’s clear from the ugly on-board incidents that keep cropping up that many airline employees don’t respect their customers. And I wonder if the crass, disrespectful behavior of too many airline passengers may have something to do with that.

Garbage in, garbage out, if you will.

This week, we’re marking a terrible anniversary, 25 years since the Los Angeles riots. The man whose beating by police led to those riots, Rodney King, famously appealed for peace, saying: “Can’t we all just get along?”

Apparently, we can’t.

And it’s going to take a lot more than another Senate bill to change that.

  1. I have been in any number of flights, Jon, where removal of the passenger would have been appropriate, and if the other passengers had their way, the obstreperous one would have been removed by force.

    One instance is etched in my mind when the governor of a neighboring state, a tall, intimidating man, was playing the “you don’t know who I am game” for the entire flight.

    We would have all voted him off the plane…even without the courtesy of landing.

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