you're arriving in the U.S. from overseas, you know your baggage is
subject to inspection. If you're sensible and not a crook, you
won't be carrying wads of $100 bills, exotic fruit or bags of white
powder, because you know they will be confiscated.
But what about your
It's basically a
hard drive and, as some travelers have discovered, the government
asserts that it has the right to confiscate a returning traveler's
hard drive and inspect its contents.
A federal judge in
California ruled last year that, without probable cause or a
warrant, such actions violate the Constitution's prohibition on
unreasonable search and seizure. To our dismay, the government
The Association of
Corporate Travel Executives believes the decision should stand, and
so do we.
community is concerned about this case because thousands of
business travelers go in and out of the country every day with
computers and hand-held devices packed with proprietary
The entire travel
industry should be equally concerned because the government's
attitude toward computer drives could be applied to any media in
the possession of a traveler -- books, diaries, digital cameras,
cell phones, MP3 players or memory cards.
Pregerson correctly ruled last year that electronic storage devices
should be protected from
government snoops because they "function as an extension of our own
If we are to be
protected from government intrusions into this private realm, the
protection has to apply whether we are traveling or sitting in our
homes. We surrender some rights when we travel, but not that
Yes, the government
can open the suitcase and look for loot and fruit, but it ought to
The airline industry took it on the chin
once again last week when the University of Michigan's School of
Business released the latest scores for its ongoing American
Customer Satisfaction Index.
The rating of our
nation's airline industry dropped to an embarrassing 63, lower than
the Internal Revenue Service, a curious fact that was not lost on
The best customer
satisfaction score turned in by a major U.S. airline was a
respectable 76 for Southwest, a carrier that offers no assigned
seating, no business class and no in-flight entertainment. None of
the legacy carriers broke 70 and five were at or below
Is Southwest that
good? Are the others that bad?
We think a lot of
this gap has to do with managing expectations. Southwest's
passengers know that if they forego some frills, they will get
something that Southwest can consistently deliver -- friendly and
reliable transportation at a reasonable price.
But we suspect that
part of the industry's low rating has to do with the staying power
of consumer attitudes.
image of the legacy airlines in the public mind in recent years has
alternated between sick puppies and greedy bunglers, and they're
still running an enormous goodwill deficit.
This is not a new
problem. With the exception of Continental, not one of the six
legacy network carriers has scored above 70 in this annual survey
in the last 10 years.
They seem to have
formed a lasting impression.