Stanley Bing

The traveler's bill of rights

Fortune's Stanley Bing is sick and tired of being pushed around, and pens his own bill of rights for travelers.

By Stanley Bing, Fortune contributor

(Fortune Magazine) -- I know this is kind of counterintuitive right now, but I think JetBlue is onto something.

After its virtual collapse this winter, the carrier has issued its very own Customer Bill of Rights, partially driven, one may speculate, by the possibility that Congress was going to get there first, but certainly motivated also by its stated dedication to "bring humanity back to air travel." To this we say - Bravo! Pass the munchies!

This contemporary restatement of the principles that guided Locke and Jefferson spells out many God-given liberties that have been honored more in the breach than in the observance lately. Included - movingly, I think - is the right of every flier to be allowed to deplane after the aircraft has been waiting to take off for more than five hours. To this we cry, Bravissimo!

At the same time, in my opinion, the philosophers at JetBlue haven't gone nearly far enough. Man and woman do not live on planes alone. And so I humbly offer a Bill of Rights for all of us who must travel in order to get business done.

1. Every traveler has the right to a Town Car that shows up on time, driven by someone who does not lie about being "right around the corner" when in fact he is on the other side of town having a quick cheeseburger with one of his girlfriends.

2. No traveler shall suffer the cancellation of a flight simply because it is not fully booked, nor shall any airline declare that there is "equipment trouble" when in fact there is no "equipment trouble" because the "equipment" is in Schenectady.

3. No flight attendant shall show hostility to any traveler, even if he or she asks for a drink of water beyond the time specified for beverage service.

4. All executive travelers have the right to be served the in-flight meal of their choice and not have to eat the lasagna.

5. All airline passengers have the right to sleep undisturbed by announcements from the cockpit specifying the altitude, the city-by-city flight plan, or the birthday of the purser.

6. Every airline passenger has the right to a seat that is not next to an infant not his own, a dog or cat, or someone who wishes to converse for more than 1 percent of the flying time. Anyone besieged by any of these nuisances has the right to a full refund and a free pair of Bose noise-canceling headphones.

7. Upon landing, all business travelers who have checked their luggage have the right to have their heads examined.

8. All repeat hotel guests have the right to upgrade to a much nicer room whenever the hotel is not full, at the same price.

9. No hotel shall have fitted sheets that are too small for the box spring. All hotels shall provide shampoo and conditioner, and not attempt to cheese out with one of those "conditioning shampoos" that do neither.


10. No guest shall be charged for a minibar snack due to the installation of one of those new, hyper-touchy sensors that ring up a fee when somebody across the room bumps his or her leg on a chair or something. Any traveler charged in this manner shall have the right to a free can of macadamia nuts.

11. All business travelers have the right to receive the rental car they reserved.

12. Every traveling man and woman has the right to work a six-hour day while on the road. Anything more than that is just too brutal.

13. Likewise, employers shall respect time zones, requiring no business traveler to "hop on" to a conference call before 8 A.M. or after 7 P.M. local time, thereby interfering with important sleeping and drinking activities, to name just a few.

14. No business traveler shall be required to go to the following cities during the winter: Moscow, Pyongyang (except for any account involving Kim Jong Il), and any town that looks like Fresno, Calif. Nor shall any traveler be required to go to those cities in the summer, either, come to think of it.

15. No one will be required to go to Las Vegas for more than three days in a row.

16. Each and every business traveler shall have the right to eat what he or she wants, and to reject as food any substance not recognized in America as such. That is, when in Asia one may not be required to ingest live lobster; when in Mexico or India, any substance that sears the hairs from the inside of one's nose; when in California, foods that were meant to be eaten by grazing animals and not human beings.

And we all get to keep our miles, no matter who is paying for them. Fair is fair, you know what I mean?

Would you like to know how you could be more profitably useless in the workplace? Stanley Bing will answer readers' career questions in a new online column. E-mail your questions to .

Stanley Bing's latest book, "100 Bullshit Jobs & And How to Get Them" (Collins), is available at finer bookstores everywhere. ___________________

A Buena Idea? ¡Sin Duda! Top of page

Tell us about your crazy boss
Is your boss heading for a self-made disaster? Scared of his own shadow? Just plain weird? Share your insane workplace story.
Executricks The central question of every hardworking person's career is how to work less hard while still being able to buy an expensive bottle of wine without trembling. The answer is simple: Retire while still working! (more)