Airline executives, including United CEO Oscar Munoz, were hauled to Capitol Hill yesterday to testify before Congress about all the recent customer service mishaps that have grabbed news headlines around the world.
I worked on Capitol Hill so I feel very comfortable in stating that the nauseating, grandstanding session by Members of Congress served little purpose than to capture soundbites for re-election commercials.
The Chairman of the House Transportation Committee is Bill Shuster (R-PA). Among the gems in his opening statement was this–
As a general rule, I don’t believe in over-burdening our businesses with regulation, or re-regulating industries that have been successfully de-regulated.
But I shouldn’t need to remind you that Congress will not hesitate to act, whenever necessary, to ensure your customers are treated with the respect they deserve.
If we don’t see meaningful results that improve customer service, the next time this Committee meets to address this issue, I can assure you, you will not like the outcome.
What did we learn yesterday? Nothing. Faux outrage from Members of Congress mixed with well-rehearsed answers from airline representatives made for a lovely cocktail of sleep-inducing TV viewing.
If you have four hours, here is the complete video of yesterday’s hearing–
If you want one example of why I disdain these sort of Congressional hearings, fast forward to 57:50 where Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) asks a rapid-fire series of questions about overbooking and change fees, but does not even give the airlines executives a chance to answer. Instead, he just interrupts them. Minutes later at 1:12:57 Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) seems utterly confused by what it means to overbook.
You get the picture. Yes, I’m admittedly jaded, but I just don’t appreciate this kind of worthless grandstanding.