Cross Country Checkup

Is flying becoming the most painful way to travel?

News and social media are abuzz with stories of air travel gone awry. They range from lost luggage and missed flights to outright assault. Is flying becoming the most painful way to travel?
Passengers await their check-in for German airline Lufthansa at Munich airport October 20, 2014. (Michaela Rehle/Reuters)

Airline woes. News and social media are abuzz with stories of air travel gone awry. They range from lost luggage and missed flights to outright assault. Is flying becoming the most painful way to travel? 

Host of Cross Country Checkup, Duncan McCue.

By now most of us have heard the story of Dr. David Dao. He was dragged off a United Airlines plane by Chicago aviation police earlier this month to make room for airline crew. The incident sparked outrage and an outpouring of stories of passenger mistreatment by airlines in the U.S. and Canada.  

Has flying the skies really become this unfriendly or are we just hearing about failed trips when something goes wrong?  

Most of the bad news stories aren't as horrible as Dr. Dao's but they are seriously unpleasant.

There was the story of the woman from Toronto who got bumped and missed her trip of a lifetime to the Galapagos Islands. Or the 10-year-old boy bumped from a flight to Costa Rica even though his family wasn't. Or Cooper the dog who was supposed to be flying from Halifax to Newfoundland and Labrador, but somehow he ended up in Hamilton, Ontario. They all add up to a growing feeling that something is not quite right with air travel.  

Canada's Minister of Transport Marc Garneau agrees, and promises a passenger bill of rights by 2018. European countries already have them.

Is that what's needed?  

Will it prevent the stories of frustration we hear from friends and neighbours and shared on social media? Or do airlines need to step up and try harder?

The airlines are certainly feeling the squeeze of running a high cost business when passengers want rock bottom fares. But must it translate into less legroom, overbooked planes, lost luggage and lineups that stretch on and on and on?

Or do we as passengers bear any of the blame because we all want the cheapest flights but expect the best service?

Our question: "Is flying becoming the most painful way to travel?"

Guests

Gabor Lukacs
Airline passenger rights advocate
Twitter @AirPassRightsCA   
Facebook: AirPassengerRights

Scott Streiner 
Chair & CEO for Canadian Transportation Agency

Marc-David L. Seidel 
Professor of Entrepreneurship who specialises in airlines & organizational behaviour at the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia
Twitter: @marcdavidseidel  

What we're reading

Press release from lawyers for Dr. David Dao (passenger dragged off United Airlines plane)

CBC.ca

Globe and Mail

Maclean's Magazine

National Post

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