USA Today: How can airlines curb bad behavior? Start by providing better service.

July 21, 2023 Media

If the click of the public announcement system in the boarding area is all it takes to make your heart skip a beat, maybe you’re susceptible to this summer’s travel epidemic: delay rage.

Have you felt it? A recent survey by TripIt of air travelers found that more than a third (36%) had experienced a delay of an hour or more, and 10% had a flight canceled.

Evidence of delay rage seems to be everywhere. It’s passengers tackling agents, destroying ticket counters, and tussling with employees. It seems as if a fight could break out before every flight – and sometimes, it does.

Airline passengers have been polite enough, thank you very much. They gritted their teeth during the pandemic while airlines canceled flights, pocketed billions of taxpayer dollars and then tried to keep the money passengers spent on tickets. Now airlines are serving up another summer filled with delays and substandard service.

The solution is to send a firm message to airlines that experience one delay after another: No more.

“Rage will only subside when passengers are treated decently,” said William McGee, a senior fellow for aviation at the American Economic Liberties Project.

He says it’s time for the government to regulate customer service in a meaningful way, which could include European-style requirements to compensate passengers during for delays.

He makes a valid point. Maybe you can’t get even with an airline at the ticket counter. But you can at the ballot box, by voting for representatives who will finally hold airlines accountable.