What Others Are Saying

February 20, 2007

Congress needs to revise the outdated laws governing airline service. Airline customers have a right to expect a certain level of service and to receive fair compensation when those standards are violated.

Airlines argue that service levels are a private matter between them and their customers. If you don't like the service, you don't have to fly. ...

Travelers shouldn't have to put up with it. Although service guarantees and compensation for flight delays will cost airlines some money, most passengers would rather pay a little more to fly rather than face the kind of treatment they get today.

Two years ago, the European Union established a compensation system for airline passengers who face delays or flight cancellations within Europe. If an airline cancels your flight because of mechanical problems, for example, it must offer you a cash refund of your ticket price, a free flight back to your point of departure and 600 euros (about $785).

While the European rules are too complicated for easy application, they offer a starting point for U.S. lawmakers. Two California Democrats, Rep. Mike Thompson and Sen. Barbara Boxer, are already introducing "passenger bill of rights" legislation.

The government needs to push airlines harder to treat their passengers humanely, and it needs to give passengers more power to fight back when airlines don't. Right now, travelers have no choice but to sit in the plane and smell the overflowing toilets.

- The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

President Bush has pulled one of the biggest U-turns of his presidency, and the world is better off for it.

He has cut a deal with North Korea, whose leader Mr. Bush has repeatedly denounced and ridiculed. The president seemed determined to stick to his hard-line plans to isolate one of the Axis of Evil's charter members. But he has turned on a dime with this deal by offering to supply $400 million in aid in exchange for an end to North Korea's nuclear weapons work. The pact is complex, multi-staged and dotted with checkpoints that could bring it to a halt.

This deal challenges North Korea to gradually dismantle its bomb building, right down to zero nukes. It involves six nations, not just Washington and Pyongyang, and it dumps the earlier fruitless White House policy of all-or-nothing concessions from the North.

The agreement shows new strains in Bush administration thinking. First, active talks, not hard demands, can nudge events in a useful direction. A major course correction took place after repeated talks. Maybe these lessons could be transplanted to Iraq policy.

- San Francisco Chronicle

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