Do the FAA’s ‘Silly Rules’ Accomplish Anything?
Travel Blog • Michael Yessis • 10.01.10 | 12:26 PM ET
Not really, writes Willy Stern in the Weekly Standard. To Stern, the silly rules include mandatory seat belt fastening, the cell phone ban and requiring seats upright for landing.
What’s at work here is society’s unhealthy fear of risk—a problem that is compounded by scaremongering in the press and the prevalence of lawsuits over the most minor injuries and actions—and a reluctance to assume personal responsibility in the face of the ubiquitous Nanny State. But there’s also simple inertia.
“In 21 years of flying, I never once heard a flight attendant complain about enforcing these rules,” says Candace Kolander, now coordinator of air safety for the Association of Flight Attendants. “It’s not an annoyance for us. You hear the bongs and you go through the ritual. It’s ingrained.” Indeed, it is ingrained, and that’s part of the problem. Luke Froeb of Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management explains that institutions like the FAA fall victim to what behavioral economists call a “status quo” bias, where rules—no matter how ridiculous—are almost impossible to change once in place.
Fun fact from the piece: The regulation that requires seats to be upright for takeoff and landing runs 1,382 words, more than double the amount of words in the U.S. Bill of Rights. (Via The Morning News)