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The forced removal of Mr. David Dao from a United Airlines flight has touched off outrage around the world, justifiably so. The airline should have adjudicated the overbooking issue before the boarding process, and as UA CEO Oscar Munoz said, nobody should ever be treated that way. The video of the removal grabbed worldwide attention and prompted some to demand more government regulation of the airline industry. As Marc Scribner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute notes, excessive regulation is a major part of the problem.
The airlines “face greatly reduced competitive pressures thanks to government policy.”
The four largest U.S. air carriers, their unions, and their political allies “have been waging a war on meager proposals to expand foreign international air travel competition.” The potential competition includes Norwegian Air and three Gulf-based carriers with high rates of customer satisfaction. More carriers in the U.S. market would expand passengers’ choices and reduce the cases of overbooking and heavy-handed removals. On the other hand, overbooking is hardly the only inconvenience in air travel.
All passengers must submit to a thorough screening process by the federal Transportation Security Administration. The TSA often adds humiliation to their famous Two Minutes Inconvenience and even if courteous and professional, the screeners don’t do much good. As we noted, in 2015 a Department of Homeland Security team was able to get weapons, mock bombs and other items through the screening. The failure rate was a full 95 percent, which passengers might not find comforting. Passengers might also want to recall September 11, 2001.
With all their vast powers and mega-billion budgets, the FBI, CIA, NSA and all the entire U.S. “intelligence community” could not prevent terrorists from entering the United States, and openly training to fly airliners but not land them. The intelligence community failed to intercept the terrorists’ flight plans and keep them off the airliners. Once aboard, nobody removed the terrorists and they completed their deadly mission. Like the overbooking problem and Mr. Dao’s forcible removal, the back story is government failure.