Back in the '80s, President Reagan could always count on laughs with what he called the nine most terrifying words in the English language: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
American Airlines isn't laughing. Not after the recent government move to "help" consumers with rising airfares by suing to block American's merger with US Airways. I'm not taking sides but you have to wonder, where was all this "help" when Delta, United and Southwest were merging with other airlines?
Maybe the Justice Dept. has turned over a new leaf, rekindling its passion for the plight of us poor travelers. But why stop there? I have some suggestions for our ever-so-efficient policymakers on easing passenger sticker-shock.
5 Things the Government Can Do to Lower Airline Ticket Prices
1. Knock down the non-airline barriers to air travel.
There are so many barriers to a vibrant air travel eco-system and we need to start knocking them down now, while remaining as vigilant as ever over all aspects of safety.
• Delayed flights: Quit diddling around withNextGen and get it up and running everywhere, not just in an airport or region here and there.
• Security: It's past time to allow all airports that are so inclined to hire their own screeners (but keep them under TSA oversight). And let's get at least 50 percent of all travelers registered for expedited screening and let's not charge for this.
• Check-in times: Everyone's tired of getting to the airport so early; let's cut bag-free, pre-screened short-haul flyers some slack and allow them a 20-minute window to check-in.
• Immigration and Border Control: Implement special European Union-style lines for travelers from Canada and Mexico, and a workforce that offers a maximum wait time of just 30 minutes for all other arriving international visitors. Remember, Americans returning home from abroad get the same treatment as international visitors so let's make it easier on all of us.
• Passport: How about a free passport for every U.S citizen? Might as well toss in free renewal, too.