We don't believe, as some recent campaign ads have suggested, that all government regulation is bad and wasteful, but the Transportation Department (DOT) has given us yet another example of how even good intentions can give rise to bad regulations.
Clearly it's a good idea to regulate the transportation of hazardous materials on commercial airlines, whether in passenger baggage or as cargo. We're talking about flammable liquids, fireworks and explosives, compressed gas cylinders, that sort of thing.
From that simple premise, however, the DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has written a rule that does too much.
Not only is the DOT requiring airlines to notify passengers about this danger, it is poised to require that airlines, agents and travel websites be prohibited from completing a ticket purchase unless the passenger affirmatively acknowledges that he or she understands the restrictions.
Under this rule, slated to take effect Jan. 1, airline check-in agents, kiosks and remote check-in systems, in addition, would be required to obtain the same acknowledgement before completing the check-in process. As we note in our news pages
, ASTA has been trying to get some clarification from the DOT about how this is supposed to work in practice. As the requirement will have to be fulfilled for each transaction, ASTA said that in the case of frequent travelers it would amount to an "unnecessary economic burden on the travel seller and a nuisance to the travel buyer."
We couldn't agree more.