Sometimes it feels like the TSA or DHS has a list entitled “Things We Want To Take Away From Passengers” and whenever something happens like what happened over Christmas, they just draw the first five options. This was one of the dangers when, after 9/11, we turned airline security over to the government. Unlike the airlines, the government has no incentive to make flying (and what happens before flying) convenient in the slightest. It’s the airlines that suffer when people decide that the if they’re going to spend four hours (including airport time) to fly 300 miles, they might as well drive six hours and pocket a few hundred dollars. At least then they don’t have to worry about what they’re going to do with their hair gel. But there’s not much the airlines can really do about it.

Sometimes, however, it works to their advantage. If they decide to further limit the amount of time that you can have personal electronics on for a plane trip, they can sell you DirecTV and other inflight entertainment options. Their incentives to treat customers well ends the moment that they can charge you a buck to treat you well.

Incidentally, that’s one of the knocks against the Kindle. Having been a frequent flier lately, I’ve found that one place I do a lot of reading is on the plain. You don’t have to worry about turning them off or on. It’s not unlike the fact that you don’t have to worry about them being charged.

I wonder if we could get Amazon to team up with Apple, Sony, Microsoft, and a bunch of other companies to try to lobby the government into getting the FAA to loosen up on the electronics ban.

Category: Road

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3 Responses to Airline Lemonaid

  1. DaveinHackensack says:

    At some point you figure some enterprising politicians could clean up simply running on a platform of common sense — which would include disbanding the TSA and going back to private security. And allowing airport security to use common sense and spent a little more time searching and scrutinizing young Muslim men than everyone else. In the meantime, I am short United Airlines. Might short another one soon as well.

  2. econoholic says:

    Trumwill, even if security is re-privatized, the government still can say what goes and what doesn’t. It’s just a matter of telling the privatized workers to confiscate water or whatever else. It seems to work just fine with flight attendants. The debate that we had about privatization post-911 was more about unionization than about safety.

    Shorting airlines might be a good move regardless of what happens to security. They aren’t the best of businesses

  3. trumwill says:


    There were two debates. Actually, one debate and a non-debate. The non-debate was whether the government would call all the shots when it came to airline security. Both sides agreed that this needed to happen. The actual debate was whether the security itself would be handled by the government. The latter debate was largely about, as you point out, unionization, but also the private-public sector relationship. I agree that even if they privatize security, it won’t be like it used to be because the government will still be calling all of the shots.

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