10 March 2010

New airline regs: unintended - not unpredictable - consequences

In December of last year, the Congress passed a new law providing for fines of airlines that delay passengers on the tarmac for more than three hours. Like so many pieces of legislation, it was a reactionary law, written by people who have no business regulating any industry to such a minute level.

Predictably, airlines have plans in place to avoid these fines, which, on an MD-80, could amount to more than $4 million on a single delayed flight. Their interpretation of these new regulations is simple: better never than late.

At least two airlines have already said they will now cancel flights rather than delay them and face the fines. Somebody will need to explain to me again how this law benefits air travelers, or why anybody ever thought that it would.

You see, that's why it's called the law of unintended consequences, not the theory of unintended consequences.

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