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In Defense of the Airlines


Would you really rather sacrifice your safety for your time?

"You now are not free to move about the cabin -- but get over it!"

High fares. Long security lines. Delays, cancellations, and horrible customer service.

It's easy to blame the airlines for all your travel woes, but in reality, they're the biggest losers as terror grips the skies once again. They must guarantee passengers' security while retaining customer satisfaction and pleasing shareholders with profits. Accomplishing all three simultaneously is no easy task.

One day after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's Christmas Day attempt to detonate an explosive device on a Northwest Airlines (DAL) flight to Detroit, President Barack Obama administered further security precautions for air travel to and within the United States.

Now passengers are being put through the ringer. Airlines are preventing them from holding personal items on their laps during flight, requiring that they remain seated for portions of it, and shrinking permissible carry-on luggage dimensions.

And then there's the most controversial proposal of all: Full body x-ray scans and aggressive luggage search for all passengers.

Passengers are finding plenty to be upset about, but it bears reminding that they hold the airline responsible for guaranteeing the safe and secure arrival to their destination. So if they deem these precautions appropriate, customers should feel satisfied with the protection they're receiving.

However, as seems to be the common trend post-9/11, air passengers have presented arguments against the newly established airport security regulations and they continue to place blame on both the airlines and the government.

The "enhanced screening" and other aforementioned security rules raised scrutiny on the grounds of three major issues:

Travel delays
2. Economic impact, both financially and socially
3. Privacy concerns

These are all inconveniences, sure, but a small price to pay for avoiding potential devastation if these measures are not employed and administered properly. If the airlines fail to exhibit a thorough and effective screening process, then the people will hold them responsible if any misfortunes come about as a result. So what are major airlines to do?

Continental Airlines (CAL) took its recent security breach on the chin. After an apparent security violation at Newark International Airport on January 3, flights experienced long delays and even cancellations after passengers had to be "evacuated, inconveniencing thousands."

The result?

Continental reimbursed some passengers and waived fees for others who were affected during the lockdown. It was the airline's problem to solve, and it came at a cost. But customers will be dissatisfied with either situation -- they will be upset that their flight is delayed or canceled due to security issues, but if the issue isn't resolved in their favor, they'll be even angrier.

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Flight delays have progressively reduced throughout the last decade, and now with advanced security, it's inevitable that they will occasionally rise.
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