I am sick and tired of waiting for my morning cup of coffee. At the joint I go to (which shall remain nameless) I can sometimes wait up to fifteen minutes in lines that stretch out the door. Perhaps I should call the Transportation Department to come in and force this cafÃ© to be more punctual. This makes about as much sense as what the Transportation Department proposes to do in order to deal with chronically late flights.
As it concludes its six month study on delayed flights, the Department’s suggested solution is to impose financial penalties on airlines. Presumably the agency believes that in order to avoid fines airlines will shape up and fly on time. However, what the fines will likely accomplish are steeper ticket prices and more delays. It isn’t that the airlines want to be late—they don’t. Late flights cost them money and customers. Passengers, like coffee drinkers, who value punctuality will seek it out. On the other hand, some customers may be willing to risk delays in exchange for cheaper tickets—that should be their choice to make. Putting an artificial economic pressure on those companies will only force them to raise ticket prices and make it more likely that they will go out of business, costing us, the passengers, more money.
If the Transportation Department really wants to help passengers, it should mind its own business.