In Defense of Airlines, Sort Of

We may not agree on government bailouts, consumer confidence or even egg recalls, but there is one thing that Americans universally seem to loathe - airlines.

Anyone who reads the news, or admittedly, our site, will know that these antagonistic feelings aren’t exactly without cause. After all, airlines lose dogs, break guitars, bump portly film directors, employ (or deploy) disgruntled flight attendants and charge us for virtually anything and everything.

With all of the evidence seemingly at hand, it’s easy to hate on airlines, but lately we’ve been wondering: Is this aversion actually justified? And if it is, what exactly is causing it?  

Before you throw me off the proverbial plane, consider a recent incident that took place on Southwest Airlines (Stock Quote: LUV) when a Sacramento woman was removed from a flight to accommodate a larger passenger who needed two seats instead of one. An egregious offense, no doubt, considering the overweight passenger arrived late and only paid for a single spot. As such, the incident had gone viral by the next morning, with articles appearing on MSNTravelYahoo, The Huffington Post and CBSNews.com.  We ran a story, too, entitled “Southwest Struggles With Weight … Again,” a riff on an earlier incident in which the airline essentially grounded film director Kevin Smith for the opposite reason.

But here’s the fun fact not captured by any of these stories’ headlines: Unlike Smith, the passenger in question was an unaccompanied minor and Southwest employees had foregone the traditional policy of asking for bump-able volunteers in an effort to spare the young woman from embarrassment.

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