Are American airports really ‘third-world’ in quality?

During his campaign for president, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpWhy Trump should disrupt the scandalous US-Saudi relationship Former deputy FBI director: Russia probe is not a ‘witch hunt’ Tom Perez: ‘Donald Trump has to go’ MORE compared the quality of American airports to those of the third-world, and he called for a change. Allowing more local control of airport funding would modernize facilities, expand airline options, reduce delays, and make the president’s goal a reality.

As a member of Congress serving 12 years from Georgia, I flew from my district to Washington and back more than 40 times per year. This was a weekly reminder of how much our air travel system needs to be modernized. Outdated and congested facilities mean fewer airline options, longer lines, and more delays. We now have less competition than, and more than one-in-five flights are either delayed or canceled.

As with any industry, when competition declines, so does customer service. People who fly are as unhappy as ever and find themselves hit with fees and charges for even basic air travel-related services. When the satirical Onion jokingly reported that American Airlines was phasing out complimentary cabin pressurization during flights, some did a double take. It was the perfect illustration of how the airline industry has perfected the art of nickel and diming passengers.

 

It was an instance where satire came with a heavy dose of truth. When jet fuel prices hit near-atmospheric levels in 2008, airlines began imposing surcharges on baggage. When oil was $150 a barrel, the fees were sold as a temporary measure to offset the additional and unexpected costs of aircraft fuel. Passengers could understand that need when the price of oil tripled.

But today, as a barrel of oil is back down to around $50, the baggage fees remain firmly in place — despite common sense saying that the prices should have come back down when oil prices dropped. And airlines have continued to double down on fees. Several…

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