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Judge Rules Flying is a Right, Not a Privilege for Americans

June 25, 2014 at 10:41 AM | by | ()

From increased fees to the elimination of in-flight meals, the evolution of the U.S. airline industry has indeed rained down frustration on American travelers. That side of the coin is looking dim for future travelers, especially with the recent news that Congress is now in bed with the TSA.

But a ruling by a Federal judge yesterday showed that good things can still happen within the airline industry when it comes to the treatment of its passengers. The case concerned the U.S. Government's no-fly list, calling it unconstitutional because it does not 1) give people on the list a chance to contest their inclusion upon it or 2) properly notify them of being added to the list. Taking it one step further in her justification, the judge ruled that these inadequate and unfair procedures have denied many Americans their right to travel.

"The court concludes international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society," Brown wrote in her 65-page ruling. "One need not look beyond the hardships suffered by Plaintiffs to understand the significance of the deprivation of the right to travel internationally."

Many of the judge's examples of the hardships focused on Americans who became stuck overseas after being added, usually incorrectly, to the no-fly list. In addition to being denied their right to fly, the judge wrote, these stranded passengers suffered due to time away from their family and loss of job opportunities. It's obviously a good thing to see the government calling itself out for mistreating its own citizens, but what we're most excited about is the wording of the decision, the fact that the judge called international travel a "right."

While it might not have any deeper impact now, we definitely feel that such a mindset will only lead to more passenger-friendly rulings down the road as the airline industry continues to steamroll its way back to profitability at the expense of 90% of its passengers (aka, economy flyers). Lord knows flyers could use a friend in the government, especially if 8 year-olds continue to pop up on the no fly list and travelers are held responsible for the federal deficit.

[Photos: WPBF]

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