Who's always right? Well, it used to be the customer but in Washington it's the Congress. Take for instance the case of pensions. Some airlines have sought changes in the government's rules on retirement schemes for years, largely because airlines in bankruptcy need to stretch out their payments or, they say, they'll have to dump their pension obligations on the federal government. In fact, several have already done so.
But airlines that aren't bankrupt like American wonder if this is fair. After all, they still have to pay into their plans and wouldn't get special treatment. American became quite testy in the run-up to final consideration of the pension bill, enlisting almost a dozen members of the Texas congressional delegation to object. But then the congressional leadership decided that they'd had enough debate on the matter and would pass the bill so that they could go on holiday. So the next morning congratulatory statements came out from Northwest and others that had desperately wanted the bill - and from American, which praised the wisdom of Congress in passing the measure.