The AP reports that United spent $600,000 lobbying government officials in the Fourth Quarter of 2009. Among United’s concerns:
United’s lobbying disclosure report doesn’t say which side it took on the legislation, but most airlines opposed new Transportation Department rules about tarmac delays that are set to take effect April 29. Airlines have said the new rules will further complicate matters when a plane is stuck on the ramp.
And who can blame them? I still think the the tarmac delay limits will hurt passengers more than it will help them.
2. House bill that would set standard limits for the size of carryon bags
I recently had a heated debate with an Australian colleague about the size of carryon bags. Some airlines and countries, New Zealand in particular, strictly limit the weight and size of carryon bags. Currently, U.S. airlines are free to regulate carry-on bags as they see fit.
I hate restrictions on weight and size because I hate checking bags. One of the reasons I love United is because I can take (almost) whatever I want onboard. Why shouldn’t airlines be able to set their own guidelines for carryons? Yes, there is a safety concern with items that weigh more. But the risk is worth it. How often is turbulence bad enough that an overhead bin flies open, a carryon flies out, and hits someone hard enough to injure them? I oppose paternalistic government intervention that unduly restricts the free flow of commerce in the name of protecting people from themselves.
3. Flight Deck laptop prohibition for pilots
I’d be interested to know what side UA lobbied for, though I can’t imagine they would expend resources to support a ban.
4. Cap and Trade Bill
United also lobbied on the cap-and-trade bill, which would put a price on each ton of pollution and allow businesses to buy and sell permits for their emissions. Airlines have opposed it because they say it would amount to a tax on fuel-intensive industries.
5. Bills aimed at ending price speculation in energy markets
United blames speculators for driving up the cost of fuel, which cost them a lot of money last year. Poor hedging strategies didn’t help…
UA lobbied Congress, the White House, FAA, and DOT, but this is nothing new. UA spent only $150K less on lobbying than they did in the 4Q of 2008. With UAUA trading around $20/share, UA can afford the extra $150K!
So what do you think about UA’s lobbying?