Recent Op-Eds

With the summer travel season around the corner, we have plenty to look forward to-spending time with our families, a long-awaited vacation, or visiting old friends across the country. But along with the fun of summer travel comes one headache we could certainly do without: airline delays.

Unfortunately, delayed and cancelled flights are an inconvenience many of us can relate to, be it a firsthand experience or that of a friend or family member. And in recent years, it's an obstacle that only seems to have gotten worse.

In the past year, thousands of travelers have spent uncomfortable nights on airport floors or hours stuck on tarmacs, when they should be enjoying a trip they've planned for months or attending an important business meeting.

As South Dakotans, we know firsthand the stress of delayed or cancelled flights, because almost all flights from South Dakota require a connection-often through some of the nation's busiest airports. Far too many times, I've found myself rushing from one terminal to another because the first leg of my flight was delayed, only to see my connecting plane backing away from the gate.

While some reasons for flight delays and cancellations cannot be avoided or solved easily, such as dangerous weather or flying conditions, there are certain steps we can take to help travelers avoid delays.

I've introduced legislation in the Senate that I believe will make it easier for each of us to plan our flights to better avoid delays. My bill, S. 1085, the Informed Air Traveler Act of 2007, would require airlines to publish important performance statistics on their web sites, such as the percentage of on-time departures and delays for each passenger flight. With that information, travelers can make informed decisions about an airline's track record before buying a ticket.

At the same time, better informing travelers before they purchase airline tickets would increase airline competition, as airlines will have a greater incentive to improve their on-time performance if they know their customers will have this information and will be making purchasing decisions based on it.

I'm hopeful the Senate will act swiftly and give this bill the all clear, so more South Dakotans can take to the skies on time and better informed.