Has the passenger rights movement found a second life in the recent tumult over airline mergers?
Kate Hanni’s Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights, which seemed to be on the fast track to irrelevance by sticking to a narrow pitch of opposing passenger strandings by the airlines, may have found new purpose. The Coalition has created an alliance with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to oppose any airline merger that involves American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, or United. (Southwest, AirTran, US Airways… feel free to merge away!)
Will they have an impact on the merger mania? That depends on what “opposition” to a merger really means. Pickets? Passenger and employee strikes? Lawsuits? We’ll see.
But the key is this: This is an effort to take the stalled passenger rights movement and extend it into a real organization by joining forces with other parties. Creating an interest group, and not just a bunch of people with a website.
But as Chris Elliott warned a while back, any organization needs to look out for passengers, not just for media coverage. Opposing these mergers is pro-consumer, so this is a promising step for Kate Hanni & Co. But, much like there are automobile associations, there’s a long way to go before we have a true airline passenger organization.
Still, this may be the first step.
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