Chris BaldwinThis Week at Oct. 3, 2007

New passengers bill of rights much too easy on complacent, arrogant airlines

Before I traveled for a living, I once boarded a flight from Detroit to New York on a snowy Michigan day, certain the plane would never make its scheduled trip. I got on anyways, after the gate agents assured me otherwise.

Four hours of circling later, we landed in Cleveland and anyone who had any sense scrambled for a hotel room on their own before the airport officially shut down and those who meekly followed the airlines' lead were welcome to a spot on a dirty terminal carpet.

Everyone not named John Madden has a story like this. Now, thankfully, more and more people are getting upset about it.

They've even organized into groups with fancy monikers like CAPBOR (Coalition for Airline Passenger's Bill of Rights). Okay, maybe they need to work on their acronyms. Still, there are tons of mad airline passengers who aren't going to take it anymore.

Which is a good thing. Right?

Well, it is unless their collective furor results in something like the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights Act just passed by the House. If the founding fathers came up with a Bill of Rights like this, everyone not named Rockefeller or maybe Trump would be tethered to an Englishman and toiling in an oilfield for scones. This is a bill as vague as Paris Hilton is about her plan to change the world.

It states the airlines will have to let passengers deplane after "excessive delays." Which no one takes to mean anything less than five hours.

Heck, Jet Blue - the airline that perfected the 11-hour, sit-in-a-plane-on-the-runway experience last Valentine's Day, and basically triggered the whole movement - already came out with its own Passenger Bill of Rights that matches that.

Gee, thanks. What's next? Free tickets to a performance of "Cats" in Russell, Kansas?

Only airlines could be arrogant enough to act like they're doing you a big favor if they let you off their sweltering poop boxes in the time it would take to watch a Quentin Tarantino double feature in slow motion. How about after two hours? That's a bill that would put some actual pressure on the airlines (a gate attendant might even sweat for the first time in history) and show that Congress cares about travelers.

As always, welcomes your comments.

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Located in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg Municipal Golf Course is one of those Smoky Mountain courses that is worth taking time off from Dollywood. Gatlinburg wows with views and tantalizes with a mixture of ease and difficulty, Tim McDonald writes.

Also: Smoky Mountains boast excellent (and affordable) golf

Dave Berner's PodcastSweet Wood Golf's Kerim Kfuri on the luxury of hickory, author Joe Redden Tigan on "Waggle," golfing Malaysia

Sweet Wood Golf Company President Kerim Kfuri said you can golf with hickory shafts that don't compromise performance. In his new book "Waggle," author Joe Redden Tigan's golfing characters ask 'what's the next step ... which way do I want to go in life?'" And, Tim McDonald on golf and travel in Malaysia.

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