FAA Should Not Consider Airlines Or Passengers Its Customer

Business Travel Coalition (BTC) and today applauded FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt’s decision to require FAA staff to cease referring to airlines customers of the agency, long a concern of travel organizations. The dysfunction caused by this misguided notion of airlines-as-customer is deeply rooted in FAA culture; the Customer Service Initiative was merely one manifestation. Bloomberg News reported yesterday: “FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, who has been in his job for less than four months, said at a news conference today, ‘When we say customer, we’re talking about the flying public. There has been some confusion in the past.’ ”
BTC and believe FAA should completely remove the term “customer” from its lexicon as it will no doubt remain as a trigger for confused behavior as FAA culture still supports the airlines-as-customer construct. FAA needs to be a strong regulator with a mission to protect the flying public, period. Moreover, and importantly, politically favored and powerful airlines should not be overseen any differently than smaller or less politically connected ones.