My American Airlines adventure

It was not the good kind of adventure, oh no. It was a succession of epic fuck-ups.

I was at an arachnology conference at Washington and Lee University that ended on Thursday. The plan was that I’d catch a flight home from Roanoke that evening, and with a layover in Charlotte, get home to Minnesota in the early hours of Friday morning. It wasn’t ideal, but I accepted the compromise of a redeye flight for a cheaper airfare.

Unfortunately, American Airlines abruptly cancelled my Roanoke flight half an hour before departure time. They can do this. I can understand how mechanical problems or weather issues mean that transportation plans can go awry. What I don’t understand is how the airlines can be so poorly prepared for the inevitable chaos their willingness to disrupt the travel plans of a few hundred people. They had no backup plan in place, other than to tell everyone to figure it out for themselves.

They were willing to dump all these people onto a market that, by design, was saturated — they’d squeeze us one by one onto any open seats that might be available, never mind that they had just made hundreds of seats vanish. They were not going to reschedule the plane, they were going to reschedule us, and damn our constraints. So I was told that the next earliest available seat was two days away. Are you going to cover my hotel costs for two nights, I asked? Oh no, they bear absolutely no responsibility for that. Not that I wanted to stay an extra two days.

We made a ridiculous compromise that would cost American Airlines nothing. They would let me fly from Charlotte to Minneapolis the next day, 24 hours after my scheduled departure. All I had to do was rent a car (would they pay for that? Don’t be absurd) and drive to Charlotte. That’s their backup plan for failure to meet a commitment: their ‘passengers’ will drive themselves at their own expense to a different airport.

I also had to spend an extra night in Roanoke, which is another cost for a motel room. I got the cheapest I could find, which was my mistake. I didn’t get much sleep, because of the clanging racket of a fleet of garbage trucks outside my window, and because the brief moment of silence I got meant I heard the scratching, rustling stirring of the rodents nesting in the box spring. Hot tip: always spring for the room that costs an extra $50 if it comes with no rats. That’s not American Airlines’ fault, at least.

I drove 3 hours to Charlotte, bright and early in the morning, driven out at 4am by the charms of a cheap hotel room. That meant I arrived very early for the earliest flight I could get, which was scheduled to depart at about 8:45 pm. “Scheduled” is a word that is flexible in its meaning to American Airlines, because no, it didn’t leave on time. As the moment of departure approached, time retreated as necessary, with the departure time moving away from us in 10 or 20 minute increments. It was almost amusing — as the moment of departure approached, the sign announcing that time would shift predictably. Oh, the sign says 9:10 departure? At 9:09, it would suddenly read 9:30. We all learned not to trust anything the official declarations said.

The plane finally opened its doors to us at something like 11:30. I think. I was a bit bleary from exhaustion by then. We trooped aboard, finally thinking the nightmare was over.

Then the pilot announced that there would be a brief departure delay — a minor maintenance issue, nothing serious, they’ll get it fixed right away. We waited patiently. Maintenance crews kept visiting the cockpit, mumbling over clipboards. Later the stewardess announces they just need to sign off on some paperwork and we’ll be off. More clipboards, more yellow-vested people visit.

We’re told we all need to get off the plane.

We’re dumped into the gate area of an empty airport. We get an occasional announcement that they just have to find a replacement part, then that they think they can build a replacement part, then that they’ll get us a new plane. The electronic departure time begins its incremental flight forward through time again. We wait. We’re going to get out of here at 1am. At 1:10am. At 1:30am. At 1:45am. At 2am. Then, the clock surrenders. 9:00am departure time, it declares. Hundreds of people groan simultaneously. There are no further announcements from American Airlines. They have decreed what reality is, and they are done. AA has washed their hands of us.

An airport terminal late at night is not a pleasant environment. Everything is closed. The lights are left on brightly. The TV screens everywhere continue to play CNN, and most importantly, commercials, with Bank of America and Geico Insurance constantly displaying surreal spots begging us to make sure money flows in their direction. The seats all have fixed armrests, so no, you’re not going to stretch out there; the floor is covered with stubbly industrial carpeting, so if you don’t mind a rock-hard surface, you can sort of rest there. The air conditioning is still running. There were no blankets, silly. I saw some people scavenge plastic bags from the garbage cans, which could give you a little cover if you arranged 3 of them just right.

I think it was a vision of a late-stage capitalist utopia.

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis…

Other problems ripple outward. My wife was supposed to pick me up at the airport. The day before, she’d been on her way when my first flight was cancelled, and I’d managed to call her when she’d only come halfway, so she turned around and went back home. This night, all the delays had dragged on with imminent promise of relief, and so she’d come all the way to the Minneapolis airport, and was waiting in baggage claim. And waiting. And waiting. I’d been keeping her hanging, frequently calling to tell her the latest lying promise of American Airlines, until that 2am final announcement, at which point she had nowhere to go, either, so she spent the night sleeping restlessly on the baggage claim floor.

My plane did not take off at 9am. The flight crew did not all arrive until approximately 10:00. The most pathetic thing about that was how all these bedraggled, worn out passengers cheered when the last crew member finally showed up. Remember that: you can treat people like dirt, and when you give them one tiny little promise of belated relief, they will cheer for you. I’m sure that’s the only lesson American Airlines learned.

I did not cheer.

I finally arrived at the Minneapolis airport around 1pm. We drove home to Morris, about 3 hours away. I got home, took a shower, got dressed to go into the lab and take care of the animals, when I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I went to take a little nap, I thought, and woke up 12 hours later. Mary slept that whole time, too.

I’m still tired and stressed. I’m also aware that American Airlines got our money up front for a promised service, failed to provide it, and because of the way corporate America works, suffered no penalty, made no effort at recompense to any of the people who suffered for their profits, and will continue to thrive while abusing the people who willingly pay them for their bad service, because we’re given no choice. It’s a little thing, a few hundred people experiencing discomfort and having their lives disrupted for just two days, but it’s galling that they will always get away with it.


  1. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I blame Reagan. No. Really, I do. The airlines in the US worked pretty well until they were “deregulated” to spur competition. As soon as that happened, service went to hell, salaries for pilots and flight attendants tanked–as did their attitudes, not surprisingly. And it was a race to the bottom.

    Now one could say that it is a different game running an airline now than it was back in the 80s, but that does not explain why the rest of the world still has airlines that mostly work, mostly arrive on time, provide better service and are cheaper than those in the States. Welcome to the fricking capitalist utopia.

  2. John Morales says

    Nah, it’s a feature of el-cheapo flights and over-booking for profit.

    I had a similarly nasty experience some years ago leaving Malaga, with the almost and almost and the boarding and the getting bussed back to the terminal and the voucher for a feed. Eventually, had to spend my very few remaining Euro coins at a kiosk (no mobile for me) in the wee hours to book a new flight to Edinburgh, bleary after around 26 hours without sleep. Still lost a prepaid day’s booking, since we arrived the day after thanks to [elided airline].

    So, not an uniquely American flight experience thingy. Capitalism and deregulation.

  3. blf says

    Another reason to use the TGV… oh, wait, that actually works, and almost as bad, is state-subsidized !

  4. Larry says

    With all due sympathy, it seems that rats in your mattress was the high point of your trip.

  5. Onamission5 says

    By way of comparison, I seem to recall taking a trip from SF to NO back in the early-mid 90’s in which we missed our connector in Houston and another plane wouldn’t be available until morning, so the airline offered for to all passengers to stay in economy rooms at the nearby Marriot, which came with a free shuttle to take us there, and vouchers for $30 in room service. We also got on board meals, not bags of nuts or cans of water. That was my first air travel experience. I believe we flew Delta.

    The last time I flew, it was definitely Delta. There were parts dangling inside the compartment, the overhead baggage holders kept popping open, and the plane rattled so badly I was worried for our lives. No snacks were available, although one could buy a soda. When attempting to leave on a return flight I was taken aside for extra security screening in which I was scanned head to toe and had my possessions turned out onto a table while my family watched other scheduled passengers board our plane. We five then had to hurriedly repack my belongings and rush, en masse, to load onto the plane, which had completed boarding and was about a minute from takeoff. No apologies, no nothing. The return flight was scarier than the there one.

  6. cartomancer says

    “…And that’s what your holy men discuss, is it?” [asked Granny Weatherwax.]
    “Not usually. There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment on the nature of sin. for example.” [answered Mightily Oats.]
    “And what do they think? Against it, are they?”
    “It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.”
    “There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
    “It’s a lot more complicated than that–”
    “No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”
    “Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes–”
    “But they starts with thinking about people as things…”

  7. says

    In the EU, if there’s a significant flight delay the airline is required to compensate you. If a flight is cancelled, the airline must give you the option of a full refund or an alternative flight (your choice).

    If you had been flying in the EU, you would have been entitled to a hotel room and meals, transport to the other airport, and since the alternative flight landed more than three hours after the original flight was due, €250 in compensation.

    Unsurprisingly, airlines do their very best not to cancel or delay flights in the EU.

  8. blf says

    Heh. Speaking of better arrangements in the 1990s, an incident I still recall was also American(?), a flight from London(?), England, via a stop-over, to San Francisco(? San Jose?), California. Stop-over was in Chicago(?). Anyways, the second flight was delayed due to a malfunctioning thingie. This happened to be during the first Gulf War, when some commercial equipment et al was requisitioned to transport troops to the slaughter. That meant the airline — which memory now says was American — didn’t have “surplus” aerocraft (or crews?) available, and in addition, didn’t have the needed part there in Chicago.

    End result is we were kept waiting for hours and hours, with the incremental announcements similar to poopyhead. Two things I recall: One, the bar for preferred passengers was kept open late (and specially opened to all from the flight), albeit I was too silly to take advantage; and two, at around dinner-time, They™ announced dinner would be served — on the aeroplane. (I suspect that was to several sensible reasons, albeit the general response from the waiting “lounge” was laughter.) Finally, around midnight (something like seven(?) hours after scheduled departure), They™ gave up, and announced we’d all be bused for a free overnight stay at a local hotel, and then a early morning “red-eye” flight (at around 5 AM, if my memory is correct !). So perhaps four hours sleep in a decent comfortable bed, and then all herded back onto the buses for a largely now-on-time flight… (On the delayed flight, I happened to be seated in the leading cattle-class row, and so had infinite legroom.)

    My first(?) ever flight was as a still-legally-minor teenager, Los Angles to Chicago, on United, decades before the above-cited flight. I was flying with a same(-ish)-aged friend to a young person’s academic / scientific event (broadly, an “unaccompanied minor”). We were specially greeted at the departure ticketing area and escorted to the lounge and then onto the plane (on which I discovered I get easily airsick !), and then from the plane itself on arrival to the event’s scheduled collection / pick-up ride. (And roughly similar on return.) Basically, most of the time in the aeroports, we were in the careful hands of a United staff person assigned to look after us.

    On the other hand, one of the first things I was warned about when moving to France is to never fly Air France. I never have, and so can neither confirm nor deny how sensible that advice is, but have been told by others, later, (parapharsing) “that’s an understatement…”.

  9. says

    I did 2 or 3 trips a month for about 15 years; nothing can describe my hatred for the airlines. They have been trying to bring back all the charm of bus travel, with inferior customer service and the scent of urine wafting from the back of the bus. The wealthy have a very different travel experience: private gates and planes. Do you ever see politicians on a commercial plane in the US? Of course not.

    Now the game is to nickel and dime the passengers. “Would you like to breathe or will you be holdkng your breath? That’s $50.”

  10. says

    dang I’d have picked you up or given people beds. Right on the way, 20 minutes from MSP, schoolteacher out for the summer. We need some kind of network.

  11. larrylyons says

    From all you’ve described, perhaps it would have been better to have driven an extra hour to the Dulles Airport. There were four separate airlines flying to Minneapolis on Sundays.

  12. numerobis says

    Dang. Greyhound can do the trip in a day, but American Airlines can’t?

    Last I checked even in the US you’re entitled compensation if your flight is canceled for things within the airline’s control, like mechanical failure. I doubt they’re within their rights not paying your hotel.

    Enforcing your rights might be as easy as sending them a letter. Or it might not be worth your fighting effort.

  13. PaulBC says

    The last trip I took was with Spirit some time back. They lost our checked luggage on the trip out, which I had paid extra to send and left my kids and me without changes of clothes for the weeklong trip. On the way back, they bumped us off the flight (Friday night) and a said the next available one was Sunday. They offered a refund and nothing else by way of compensation.

    Anyway, I thought it was because Spirit is just a crappy low-budget airline, and I definitely will not fly them again. I imagine it happens increasingly on other airlines.

    However, they did not drag me off the plane and beat me so they have that going for them. Maybe PZ should also try looking on the bright side.

  14. PaulBC says

    “Indeed. Airlines are on my long list of things that make this country crappier than it has to be”

    I sometimes comment that “I don’t like to fly.” but the part that involves being up in the air, ideally with a little window to look out, and the thought of going somewhere far away, still gives me a kick well into middle age. Even the physical discomfort of limited leg room is a minor concern.

    What sucks is getting in and out of security, being stuck on a grounded plane for indefinite periods of time, and the uncertainty of having the connecting flights work out. I’m also not sure there are easy fixes to any of this.

  15. Michael says

    You reminded me of a layover I had in the pre-911 days when I was a student (too cheap to pay for a motel). I had a overnight layover at a relatively small airport, arriving late at night, with a departure in the morning, with no new flights coming in or out during that time. I figured I could lay down across a few departure gate seats for the night, and crash there until morning. I’m searching for a nice comfy spot, when I hear my name called. It seems that I have to leave the secure area to collect my luggage, as it isn’t going to be automatically transferred to my morning flight. It also means that I have to wait to check in to my next flight in the morning, and won’t be able to get back in past security until I then when I have my new boarding pass. So I had to find a seat in the lobby of the departure floor, and wait there overnight until I could check in, unable to get much sleep as I was paranoid that someone might walk by and walk off with some of my luggage. Oh, and being a small airport, the temperature was a bit cool as the exit doors were regularly opening and closing near me.

  16. jrkrideau says

    As a follow-up to @ 14 numerobus, there is a US passenger bill of rights. It might be worth looking into it.

  17. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    AA seems to be really tanking its reputation. About a year ago (on the cusp of the new year, not related) we booked a flight to Memphis, from Boston, with a connection in Chicago. The connection was supposesd to be about an hour or so, as we were at Chicago waiting the connection the departure time kept getting pushed back, everytime we looked it was back another 15 minutes. After a few hours, we inquired at the boarding gate, they said there was a mechanical problem with the scheduled plane , and they were currently searching (yes, searching) for a replacement from their hangar bay, “we’ll keep you informed…” Few hours more, they retrieve a replacement and start the boarding procedure. After filling the plane, it had been snowing and icing the wings, so we then had to wait for the de-icing truck to cleanse the wings. Almost 6 hour delay in Chicago for minor details. Even before leaving friends had heard the airline we had booked and related their bad experiences with AA, our response was the simple, we’ll see. We did, AA now on our [do not use] list.
    My flight experiences with Jet Blue have been far superior. To any other airline I’ve flown, included United, British Air, Lufthansa, …
    Like an earlier comment, I also blame Reagan (not directly), IE the response the industry has taken to the deregulation. Lowering fares due to deregulation has made air travel far more accessible to broader class of incomes, which led them to “compensate” by the overcrowding and overbooking which has led to so many awful occurrences recently.

    While really the safest form of transportation, there is real value in groundbased travel such as rail. I’m with AOC who is a strong advocate of increasing our development of High Speed Rail across the continent, both for it’s [green] nature (being electric) and its more accommodating nature to the passengers in term of floor space and lounging areas and sightseeing capability.
    Yes I’m a railfan too
    thank you for reading me ramble

  18. says

    In slight defense on one implication:

    There were good reasons for the last crew member not to show up until 10am. FAA regulations (which are grossly insufficient) require eight uninterrupted hours of crew rest if the crew’s duty day (meaning “ready to fly”) exceeded twelve hours the preceding day. That eight uninterrupted hours begins not when they leave the airport, but when they reach their respective hotel rooms… and believe me, the logs get checked, by both the FAA and the unions (because no big airline has ever abused its workforce to meet a schedule, has it?).

    Based on the timeline, a 10am arrival reflects a release from the airport of some time after 2330 the night before, transit to a hotel, rest, food (which, I should add, is not part of the uninterrupted rest period), transit back to the airport, and preflight security/briefing.

    Now for that market, the airline should have brought in one of the reserve crews from DC. And should have made ground transit arrangements. But was not obligated to do so, because of excessive deregulation. So, instead of creating safety issues in the air, it created safety issues on the ground… that it can externalize to others.

  19. PaulBC says

    @slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem))

    I’m not holding my breath even for high speed rail in California, where there would be a great deal of value in connecting Los Angeles to the Bay Area. Aside from the cost (and bizarre US politics that equate rail travel with communism) there’s so much NIMBYism that even minor upgrades to existing rail service are a major battle.

    Americans in my experience are willing to accept a lot of things that suck as long as they can deny any benefit to those they deem unworthy. Maybe this is changing with younger people. I hope so.

  20. magistramarla says

    This is why I strive to book Southwest Airlines. They have had their small glitches, but I’ve found them to be generally on time and I’ve usually been treated well as a disabled passenger. By far, the best airline I have ever experienced is Japan Airlines. That airline treats passengers as honored guests, and disabled passengers as VIP guests.
    We’ve also traveled by rail in Japan and in Europe. Again, as a disabled passenger, I was treated incredibly well in both places.
    Travel in the US is crappy by comparison.

  21. PaulBC says

    @Paul 23. That seems extreme, but (I think) I know what you mean. I did more traveling as a grad student in the 90s on my advisor’s dime than I ever have since. When it comes to getting between coasts, driving isn’t an option. I take few enough vacations as it is. I’d like to drive cross country, but it is a lot of time. So mostly I stay put or plan driving trips.

    I remember feeling sort of bad for James Fallows who I had heard interviewed in 2001 about his book “Free Flight” in which he envisioned making air travel much better. Though I see the Amazon blurb is recast for the post-9/11 world, it is an understatement to say that priorities shifted rather suddenly while Fallows was still promoting his vision.

  22. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    John Morales and Slithey Tove,
    Except flights aren’t cheaper. They’re more expensive than they were in the early ’80s, at least based on my experience as a grad student who looked for cheap flights. That’s the whole point of deregulation–giving you less for more money. Health care, travel, banking, food. You name it. Humans are the latest domesticated animal.

  23. mnb0 says

    This AA’s way to fight the climate crisis – by discouraging traveller to take planes. Your experience is your punishment for increasing the Greenhouse Effect.

  24. says

    The reasons they get away with it:

    1) For the privileged few workers who get paid time off, it’s not nearly enough time to take alternate modes of transport like cars, busses, trains (I love trains).

    2) No matter how many leisure passengers swear off air travel, there will always be many thousands of poor schmucks like me whose industries can’t operate without frequently flinging us hither and yon in giant metal tubes. Our costs will go up but they are the costs of doing business, so we’ll keep propping up the airlines.

    3) Disrupting air travel means disrupting the entire aerospace workforce and supply chain, and nobody wants to be the douchebag who made that many jobs unnecessary. That’s why we will never rid ourselves of private health insurance or the TSA – it would cost too many jobs.

  25. wsierichs says

    Pretty much everything bad that’s going on the U.S. effectively started under Reagan. That’s one reason I call him the worst president in history. No, Trump still has a ways to go to equal Reagan.

    I have not flown in 20 years or so. I drive or take the train if possible. If you can afford a roomette on a train, you get privacy, the possibility of sleep and real meals. Also, usually a bar! I consider trains the most civilized way to travel long distances, if they’re a viable option. Otherwise, I drive.

    Train travel could be much better if the gov’t would ever cough up enough money to upgrade the rails, then add high-speed trains. That would put lots of people to work. But the Military Industrial Murder Complex pays their employees in Congress and the White House so much better, so we’ll keep wasting trillions on unnecessary wars and weapons. I fear that if we ever got a president and Congress that cared about working Americans and tried to put some money into our infrastructure needs, we would find that the MIMC also owns a majority of the Supreme Court and can get a ruling that spending money on our needs, rather than on war crimes and useless weapons, would be found unconstitutional for some reason.

    Yes, I am quite bitter about all of the corruption in our government, which has increased vastly since Reagan took office. Every president since him has been a Republican (Clinton and Obama only pretended to be Democrats; once in office they brought out their inner Reagans). I hope I can still drive long distances, or take a train, for a few more years. When I can’t, I probably won’t care any more.

    (My one bad airline trip story was due to weather holding me in Boston until it was too late to make my connecting flight in Atlanta. I was lucky that I only had to spend one sleepless night in the airport. This was far enough back in time that airlines still had some degree of quality service, so the morning flight went off as scheduled, rather than leaving me stranded for hours – even a day – in Atlanta.

  26. says

    Tell me again why Americans love Capitalism so much?

    It’s because they can all afford giant stinky pickup trucks to roll coal at the even poorer people behind them.

  27. kaleberg says

    I keep telling myself that it could be worse. If i were going by stagecoach, I might have to get out and help push.

  28. bryanfeir says

    This sort of thing is part of why whenever I’m doing relatively local travel (Toronto to Montreal or Ottawa) I do train. The other part of it being that the security requirements for boarding the train aren’t as absolutely ludicrous as the airlines.

    This sort of thing is also why Canada recently passed a ‘Passenger Bill of Rights’ legislation:
    It doesn’t go far enough as far as most people (who don’t work for the airlines) are concerned, but it at least sets a bottom to the barrel.

  29. Onamission5 says

    In August we’re taking Kid2 to college. We plan on driving her and all her things from NC up to Massachusetts in a rental then taking a one way flight back. I fully expect the flight back to be more psychologically taxing then the 14 hour drive, and not because of the “we just left our first baby behind” post college drop off meltdown, either.

  30. eds86 says

    @numerobix (#14)

    Greyhound is a headache.

    I left New Orleans at 9:25 pm June 9, to arrive in Johnstown PA at 11:30 am June 11. I was supposed to have a transfer in Montgomery AL at 5:00 am, June 10.

    There was a 3-hour delay in Mobile, as Greyhound had no drivers available. I arrived in Montgomery at 7:00 am.

    This should have not been a problem, as Greyhound had tickets available for a 10:20 am bus leaving Montgomery, with connections getting me to Johnstown at 11:30 am June 11 – hence no delay. However, customer service told me that I had to obtain the replacement in Montgomery.

    The Greyhound agent in Montgomery refused to let me have the replacement I wanted, even though seats were available. Instead, he sent me to Atlanta without a ticket, telling me to get a replacement there. He insisted that since Johnstown was near the seaboard, I would have a better chance of getting a ticket through Atlanta than in Montgomery, where there were fewer north-south buses.

    He never even bothered to check whether the tickets were available.

    When I got on the bus in Atlanta, I found (a) my requested Montgomery – Johnstown route had seats available, and (b) there were seats available which would get me home on time when I got to Atlanta, but I couldn’t get a replacement ticket for those seats because I wasn’t actually in Atlanta.

    When I reached Atlanta, those seats had been sold. I was able to get tickets to get me home at 11:30 am on June 12, 24 hours late, but I would have to spend a night in Pittsburgh, and pay for accommodations myself.

    Luckily, by the time I reached Charlotte, there was one seat available on a route that would let me reach Johnstown at 10:30 pm June 11, only 11 hours late. However, I had to pay Greyhound $20 to make the ticket change.

  31. PaulBC says

    @Paul Durrant Yep. I was not “bumped” from my Spirit flight in that sense. They refused to board passengers who would have missed a connecting flight since the first leg was delayed. I filed a complaint (I forget how you do it now) and it did get their attention, but the most I ever got was the small refund on the flight back that I refused to accept at the time.

    I could not wait till Sunday. In fact, my daughter needed to have some medical labs that would have delayed another procedure if we weren’t back in time (you could say I was taking a calculated risk flying at all, but I had left myself 48 hours and there were many other constraints to my time of travel). I explained all this to the gate agent who was nice but apparently lacked any authority to help.

    I was lucky to get a flight back on another airline on short notice for the next day. I paid for a night in a motel and the flight out of pocket. None of this goes beyond annoyance level, but this (and the lost luggage) convinced me not to fly Spirit again.

  32. PaulBC says

    @Ian King “Tell me again about the efficiency of the free market…”

    The market saves lots of money, just not necessarily your money. I’m being glib, because “market reforms” often have a lot less to do with any sort of efficiency at all. Industry lobbyists want to benefit their clients, not solve some kind of global allocation problem.

    But even someone who is a true believer in the magic of the market place ought to be able to understand that there is no guarantee that they are not benefiting from “inefficiency” or that the “efficient” market will help them. The reason to regulate transportation is not to lower overall costs but to establish a public good.

  33. khms says

    Let me just point out that all the stuff going wrong in the US didn’t start with Reagan (though he certainly contributed a lot).
    It started much earlier – when the first European settlers arrived. (Except for those parts that started even earlier and they brought along with them, such as religious intolerance.)
    Sure, some things were already going wrong for the Natives before that (though I don’t know enough to enumerate them, just based on the generic human condition), but the Europeans made those mostly irrelevant over time by replacing them with their own versions.

  34. Rob Grigjanis says

    wsierichs @29: What about Jimmy Carter signing the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978?

  35. says

    Last year I was travelling 2-way Warsaw-Tel Aviv. Tickets cost was around 200 euro
    There was 9 hour delay (10pm instead of 1pm) with departure from Warsaw, we were informed about 2 hours before scheduled flight. If not for the fact I live on the other side of the city and I prefer to have extra spare time just in case, I would got the info before leaving home.
    We got vouchers for 2 meals per person (one for each 4 hours of delay), so I got good dinner and great dessert before the flight. If the delay was overnight we would have also been given accomodation in a hotel.
    Month after returning to Warsaw I wrote 2 or 3 mails describing the situation and providing my account info and got 400 euro back as a compensation for delay.

    In your face Americans :D
    long live european socialism.