For those gentle readers who did not think that the incident when Dr. David Dao was dragged bodily from his seat on a United Airlines plane was the most outrageous thing to happen on an airline, another atrocity took place on an American Airlines jet when a flight attendant wrestled a baby stroller away from a woman passenger and hit her with it, barely missing the infant. Then when a male passenger stood up to defend the woman, the flight attendant offered to fight him.

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The incident started, according to the Dallas Morning News, when a different flight attendant told the woman that she could look for space on the plane to store the stroller, else it would have to be checked at the gate. While the woman was in the process of doing so, the male flight attendant grabbed the stroller and hit the woman with it, touching off the incident that left the woman sobbing and the other passengers seething.

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The altercation was recorded on a number of cell phone video cameras.

American Airlines, to its credit, moved swiftly. The flight attendant has been grounded pending an investigation. The woman and her children were upgraded to first class with heartfelt apologies.

However, the incident with the woman and the stroller and with Dr. Dao have illustrated an increasing problem with Air Travel. A lack of competition in long distance air travel coupled with a maniacal drive to cut costs and the necessities of airport security have combined to make flying a living hell.

Passengers are packed in as tightly as possible in overbooked airliners overseen be stressed out flight attendants. Naturally, mayhem has been ensuing with astonishing frequency.

A number of reasons exist for the situation. Mergers and acquisitions have decreased the number of airlines, and the lack of gate space at airports have kept those numbers low. Attempts to expand airports or build new ones have been met with savage resistance from environmentalists and NIMBY activists.

The lack of alternate long distance options completes the process.

Mind, technology is likely to eventually solve the problem. Air taxi services, using electric powered planes, will start taking over short haul air travel. Elon Musk’s Hyperloop may provide a natural alternative to flying between cities in the United States. But in the meantime, something really needs to be done to remove the stress in air travel.

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The airlines themselves need to take the initiative in this regard. Otherwise, the government is likely to do it for them with a solution that may or may not be sensible.

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