FROM Scott McCartney
Holiday Air Travel: Exposed Junk and Hidden Fees Transportation Security Administration officials were gritting their teeth over the prospect of " National Opt-Out Day " on the busiest travel day of the year. Passengers are reporting large numbers of TSA workers at airports around the country, helping lines to keep moving. Will complaining about scanners and pat-downs do any good? Scott McCartney is travel editor at the Wall Street Journal where he writes a weekly column called "The Middle Seat ."
Turbulent Times for America's Airlines Since deregulation, America's airlines have expanded by a factor of ten and there has not been a major crash since 2001. But the recent grounding of thousands of flights, which stranded hundreds of thousands of passengers, and evidence that the Federal Aviation Administration is too cozy with the companies it regulates have raised concerns about safety. Whistle-blowing FAA inspectors told Congress that Southwest Airlines had been allowed to skip inspections for fuselage cracks for as long as nine months. Southwest was fined $10 million, and the FAA began an "industry-wide audit." Meantime, smaller airlines have gone under or filed for bankruptcy, and big ones are talking about mergers. Is the agency trying to reassert itself and reassure the flying public that all is well? Were passengers really at risk? With airlines folding, going bankrupt and looking at mergers, are the industry and its passengers in for a troubled future?
Air Travel in the United States: Is Anybody in Charge? In a study of America's airline industry, the General Accountability Office of Congress—the GAO—reports no collisions on airport runways since 1990. But in Los Angeles last August, two planes came within 37 feet of each other. There were 369 other near misses—"incursions" they're called--during last year alone. The GAO concludes there's "a high risk of a catastrophic runway collision." Meantime, air controllers are tired and flight delays are at their highest level in history; more and more luggage is just getting lost. After 13 hours and 17 minutes on a plane from San Francisco to Dallas, one unhappy business woman wants a " Passengers' Bill of Rights ." But a veteran writer calls this "the Golden Age of Travel," "as comfortable and reasonable today as it's ever been."
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.