I suppose I’m the only person in America who isn’t fawning over Kate Hanni, the godmother of the airline “passenger’s bill of rights” movement.
When I interviewed her on my radio show yesterday to get her reaction to a court ruling striking down her attempts to mandate a state law that gives passengers guaranteed water, food, and working toilets in the event of a lengthy delay, it didn’t really go very well. I guess she thought I would share her frustration that her efforts were overturned by the court.
She seemed quite surprised that I didn’t. Because I think an effort to create a state law to form a passenger’s bill of rights on an airplane is a terrible idea.
Allow me to explain why.
Slowly but surely, there is a mindset developing in our country that if life deals us an unexpected challenge or obstacle, somebody better pay. We are an impatient society that demands instant gratification. And if a business doesn’t make something right for us, then we’d better by-God get the government to do so. Attorneys circle like vultures, waiting for the next big payday.
Just this week it was announced that Virginia Tech University is offering $100,000 to each of the families of those tragic souls who were slaughtered in the Virginia Tech massacre in an effort to thwart any and all lawsuits that the families might file against the school or the state of Virginia.
Think about that for a moment: it is so inevitable that families of victims killed by a madman are going to sue the deep-pocketed state or university that they have to offer a pre-emptive payment.
Why in the world should the state of Virginia be financially responsible for the actions of a lone nut with a gun?
That’s easy. Because our tort reform-challenged culture allowed it to happen. Some evil terrorists kill thousands on 9/11 and Congress creates a multi-billion dollar victims compensation fund, again, so the surviving family members won’t sue anybody.
The airline passenger’s bill of rights has the same undercurrent of entitlement. Kate Hanni was once a stranded passenger who was so irate about her experience that she began this movement.
And it sure sounds great, doesn’t it? Who could object to passengers stuck on an airplane being guaranteed water or working toilets? All of us who have ever been delayed by bad weather or a back-up can appreciate the effort.