We Know You Have (Almost No) Choice In Airlines
It's yet another bit of annoying protectionism -- protecting consumers from getting cheaper fares and better service.
Travel writer Christopher Elliott has a blog post questioning why foreign airlines can't fly within America:
Try not to laugh too loudly the next time a flight attendant makes one of those pre-flight announcements to thank you for your business and say, "We know you have a choice in airlines."
Now that the USA is down to just three major legacy carriers, thanks to the misguided merger between American Airlines and US Airways, it doesn't take a card-carrying frequent flier to know your options are awful.
But they don't have to be. Imagine if foreign airlines were allowed to offer flights in the United States, competing head-to-head with our new winged monopolies.
"If I could fly Japan Airlines or Cathay Pacific on U.S. domestic routes, at prices comparable to American airlines, I would buy those tickets in a New York minute," says John Strohm, a software engineer from Huntsville, Ala.
He's not alone. Once other air travelers have experienced the impressive service some foreign airlines offer, they often wonder: Why can't they do business in the USA?
International airlines do operate in this country, of course, but they're forbidden from flying point-to-point destinations domestically. These laws, which are meant to protect American consumers and jobs, are having the exact opposite effect. Eliminating -- or at least partially lifting -- outdated restrictions could significantly increase competition and improve customer service.
Banning foreign carriers from offering domestic flights might have made sense a generation ago, when the American airline industry was tightly regulated by the federal government, say industry watchers. But today, with only a few megacarriers remaining and the security concerns of the Cold War a distant memory, it's harder to justify the laws.
"Foreign airline competition and capital investment in U.S. airlines could quickly improve passenger service, lower fares, result in new start-up airlines, and relieve overcrowding," says Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org.