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The nation's air carriers want to keep you prisoner on airplanes and dump you off at strange airports and fly away without you. Seriously. That's what they want to be able to do to you.

How do I know that? Because in the last couple weeks a major airline kept about 10 planeloads of passengers prisoner on a frozen tarmac in New York, and at least two other airlines left behind four planeloads of passengers at a strange and distant airport when the planes were diverted from their original destinations.

You have all heard about JetBlue in New York. People were kept prisoner for 10 to 15 hours because the airline couldn't figure out how to get them off the plane in less than that amount of time.

Hold on, John. You say prisoner? Uhhh, yes. In the post-9/11 world have you tried mouthing off on a plane? They were prisoners.

Now about the airlines abandoning passengers at strange and distant airports. You might not have heard about the four planeloads of passengers who were diverted to small airports when storms closed Denver earlier this month. When the weather cleared, the airlines had the planes take off without the passengers, stranding them somewhere they never wanted to go. The airlines said the planes were needed elsewhere.

So JetBlue — stung by bad PR and pure embarrassment — says it's going to institute a passenger bill of rights. They won't keep you prisoner anymore.

So what does the airline industry association say? "A rigid, national regulation would be counterproductive and could easily result in greater passenger inconvenience," said James May, head of the Air Transport Association.

Notice he did not say his member airlines would promise to never land you somewhere, make you get off the plane and then fly off without you. No. They want to have the right to strand you, still. You don't like being kept prisoner on board? Fine, we'll dump you off in Cheyenne, Wyoming, or some small place in Nebraska. Good luck getting out of there, pal.

An airline passenger bill of rights seems like a good idea to me. I don't want to be kept prisoner or stranded, especially if the guys that own the planes have my money.

Doesn't seem so much to ask, does it?

That's My Word.

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