Is it time to “occupy” the travel industry? By Christopher Elliott | October 16, 2011 When I was in New York last week, I decided to drop by Wall Street to see the protests. I wasn’t impressed. I’d heard that Bill O’Reilly called them crackhead anarchists, but as I walked by Zuccotti Park, I saw neither crackheads nor anarchists. Instead, I was reminded of the random and pointless protests I witnessed as a college student in Berkeley. Those actions amounted to nothing except maybe disturbing the peace. But word that the actions had spread to other cities, and just yesterday, of a massive protest in Times Square, made me take another look at these activists and their cause. You can read their modest call to action here. If these protests are about calling attention to inequality, then does the travel industry need to be “occupied”? Consider: • Just yesterday, a commenter suggested the TSA could use a little occupation. Maybe so. The agency has a long and growing list of exceptions to its pat-down policy. The least we can do is expect it to screen every air traveler with the same level of care. • I’ve been a long-time critic of loyalty programs that separate travelers between “haves” and “have-nots”. It isn’t so much that the “haves” are treated like Caesars when they travel, but that the folks in the back of the plane are punished for failing to carry the right card. That’s unfair. • How about executive compensation? We could talk about Gerard Arpey’s $5.2 million paycheck, even as his airline teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. How about the salaries of United Airlines’ and Continental Airlines’ execs, post-merger? Sigh. No one deserves to make that much for doing so little. I’ve read — and reread — the Occupy Wall Street manifesto a few times now. I think it’s being kept vague so that people like me can say, “Yeah, there’s something there I can agree with.” (I mean, does anyone think we don’t have “the right to communicate, to live, to be, to go, to love, to do what you will without the impositions of others”?) But what to do about it? As a consumer advocate, I think real change will come when we (the 99 percent, as we’re being called) simply refuse to do business with a company that treats us unfairly or exploits us. That is the ultimate form of protest, and perhaps the most effective. The Occupy Wall Street protesters have done a great job of generating media coverage. Hey, they got my attention. But they will fail unless we, their presumed constituents, stop patronizing those who perpetuate this system. I think a day of boycotting air travel, or “opting out” of the invasive full-body scans, or refusing to buy fuel, would send a powerful message. The actions could be followed up with more targeted protests, like boycotting one or two companies with unjust policies. Ah, but travelers are incredibly difficult to organize. I saw what happened on National Opt-Out Day last year. It was a PR victory for the Department of Homeland Security. Similar actions against airlines, hotels and car rental companies in the past have fizzled. We can’t change the world until we’re ready to stand up against the inequality, as a group. Is that time now? (Photo: Blais One/Flickr) Christopher ElliottChristopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus Tom While the Occupy demonstrations show just how unhappy people are with the Obama administration, they are also a social activity for people with time on their hands — Smash the state, join the line, won’t you be my Valentine, as they used to say in Berkeley. As far as protesting the Obama administration by disrupting travel — please don’t do it on a day when I have to get somewhere. Fred I One reason this won’t work against airlines: A lot of travelers (especially the valuable ones) come from that 1% that the Wall Street protests are aimed at. Unless you can somehow convince them to join against the ‘evil’ airlines that treat them fine, you simply won’t get the numbers that such a protest needs. If you look, you can find fault with any airline, so by protesting one, you just send passengers to the others. And there is no way that you can convince enough people simply not to fly to make an impact. Really – there are just too many people who claim that they need to fly, and enough who don’t care enough about the airlines as long as they get a cheap flight. The TSA one might have a shot, however, considering that it is a government agency that relatively few people will sympathize with. Carver The occupay wall street people either never took or simply failed high school economics. I challenge you to find one legitimate economist who believes that a single day of boycotting things like fuel would be meaningful in the slightest. If you want to protest you have to do it for a sustained period of time. Much like the civil rights protestors of the 50s and 60s who refused to ride the buses until the disparate treatment was ended. Or like the civilized world that refused to do business with South Africa until Apartheid ended. That way the balance sheet actually weakens, not merely shifts money fro one day to another. But these trite arguments against high gas prices and executive compensation are just sound and fury signifying nothing.. Z44212 You may be misreading the protests if you view them as anti-Democratic, Tom. Raven_Altosk I have issues with the Occupy crowd, but I would gladly protest the TSA provided it wasn’t associated with Occupy. I’m with them on the bailouts, the excessive bonuses, and the lousy economy. But, some of their “manifesto” doesn’t hold water with me. All of the uber-hippie nonsense from legalizing pot, to saving the planet, to abolishing all immigration law, to the “free college because it’s a right” nonsense… Not to mention the yahoos in Atlanta who have “renamed” their “occupied” park after a cop killer. Ugh. Gerry Vineberg Response to Tom: Are you dense? The protestors are against corporate greed 1st & then the inability of government to regulate these modern day pirates. Obama may be somewhat of a disappointment but he did not cause this malaise…that lays at the doorsteps of Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld… They are the ones that let Wall Street run wild. Robert I’d say that they’re all at fault… Which is why I try to stay out of politics. Sylviaguarino Like Robert, I have not been too active in commenting on this “movement”. But I do have to commend Chris for what is the most (in fact, the only) sensible reaction I have read on Occupy Wall Street. There are so many people at fault in all of this and so many, many, many unofficial criticisms and demands being made by OWS as to make the whole effort impotent. Mixed messages, dilution of who the 1% really are, lack of goals, lack of coherency, lack of a spokesperson and other factors will make this whole protest shrink in (short) time…. like last nights peas under the dining room table. http://twitter.com/orlandolocal Orlando Local As I’ve said the same thing, I have to agree with your suggestion. Money talks. If you’re not being treated well by an organization, take your business elsewhere (e.g., I won’t fly on Delta or Spirit Airlines). Whining while still lining the pockets of the people you think did you wrong is pointless. Businesses care about profits because that is their measure of success. Bad press is annoying, but if it doesn’t really affect the bottom line, then it’s tolerable. Don’t like your bank? Go find a credit union. Don’t like the TSA? Take a train or drive. If you’re willing to put up with the TSA for the convenience of flight, then your message really isn’t what you think it is. Asiansm Dan I already did it by “occupying” my comfortable apartment more days per year than before. Tony A. Same here. In fact, I’d like to go back to gardening fruits, flowers and veggies. cjr001 In the end, I’d certainly agree that they’re all at fault. And we the people truly have a lot to be angry about. Unfortunately, I’m not very hopeful that we’ll see any meaningful change. The Condor Will Hutton is a British political economist. In his recent book, “Them and Us,” he talks about some of the issues of corporate cultures becoming stagnant and the need for external influence via regulation to create innovation desired by consumers. (His example was environmentally friendly cars in Germany, a result of the rise of the Green Party, and initially resisted by every auto manufacturer — now they all credit the decision with revitailizing their businesses.) We have similar problems in air travel in this country — if I need to fly from San Francisco to northern New Jersey, only one airline flies direct SFO-EWR. I would need to chose either a longer routing, or less optimal airports. Five years ago, that wasn’t the case, there were two airlines… But they’ve since merged and nothing was done to aid consumers who relied on that routing. (I spoke to a Virgin America representative about starting service on that route. My fingers are crossed.) Hub airports tend to be overwhelmingly dominated by a single carrier, reducing competition. I don’t think a return to pre-de-regulation is desired, but some oversight on behalf of the consumer is. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1556838763 Nancy Marine Dickinson Had you used any other group than the OWS idiots, you might have had me. I refuse to show any kind of solidarity to anyone who thinks they have the right, along with their “cause”, to defecate on the ground when the mood strikes, litter a perfectly lovely park and refuse to allow anyone to clean it up (a park owned, coincidentally, by the employer of Joe Biden’s son), have sex out in a public place for all an sundry to see, even the kids who used to play at this now infested park, or make their battle cry, “GIMME, GIMME, GIMME!” If these are the kind of people you model yourself after, Chris, you’ll probably lose me too. Cybersagacious When people blame “the government” everyone does not realize ‘they’ and ‘you and I’ are the government. Congress has an 80% disapproval. Hey, guys, YOU voted them in. And those of you who never voted, stop whining and bitching and moaning. (2012, vote the bums out). Remember Abraham Lincoln? “Of the people, for the people, by the people.” The ocupyers are the people. Wall St., the president and congress will have to tke notice. The NY instigators must be in ecstasy that the movement has spread around the world. Finally the people are speaking out with a booming voice. At the right time, too, as our election period is beginning: this is no idle protest. The “Arab spring”has http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1556838763 Nancy Marine Dickinson If they truly wanted to save the planet, they wouldn’t be trashing so horribly the parts they protest in and on and would allow others, who DO want to clean it up, in to do their jobs. They don’t want to save the planet, that’s just talk to bring into the fold larger organizations dedicated to ecology. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1556838763 Nancy Marine Dickinson Fred – my husband and I both travel a great deal, he working for a govt. contractor, me as a freelance journalist. I’m glad you put us in that 1%! That means we are wealthy beyond our wildest imagination! I should go look under my pillow to see what the tooth fairly left me! We are not the 1%, we are also not the 99% – we are the 53% and incredibly proud to be part of THAT group! Philip >> p.s. >>continued Oops, I cut myself off >>> The “Arab Spring” has laid the foundation for constructive uprisings. This is our “American Spring” >>forward. Congress continues to ‘tell us’ what to do and how to think, and how to live, resulting in our just trying to survive while they deal with their own distorted idealology. They are not speaking for their constituents. Thanks to the ‘ocupyers’ they will now have to listen and shiver in theri boots. Yes, there has to be some sort of protest from travelers. When a stewardess can force you off your flite if you look crosseyed at her/him, it is time to fight back. All of you who read this great (Chris’s) column, start thinking of really creative ways to change all the negatives of enjoyable flying. We pay a dear price for flying. We should not feel like cattle going thru a shute to our slaughter. Tom People are unhappy with the Obama administration and these protests are the result just as people burned down inner cities back in the 1960s in response to the Democrat Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. The poor economy and the class rhetoric has fueled these protests and holding Obama responsible is correct. Raven_Altosk Exactly my thoughts. They are all hypocrites in that regard. Also, the local ones here are hurting small businesses because they are blocking the entrances and scaring away customers. Cynthia – it isn’t necessarily about boycotting . . . it is about getting our displeasure out there voicing our disgust with the way things are and agitating for the change we want. It may not be pretty it may not be smooth, but people are plenty pissed off in this country and they’re just getting started. Cynthia – Chris . . . for another view of an Occupy protestor watch this video . . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aas0mwCkK04&feature=share Robert Thurman is a wise and learned Buddhist scholar we would do well to listen to him. http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott I hear you. One of the reasons I never could associate myself with any protest movement as a college student was the behavior of some of the more radical elements. Their hygiene left something to be desired, particularly the off-campus protestors, who occupied a city block at one point. I felt that I had nothing in common with them or their tactics. The one protest I participated in was in support of the pro-democracy movement in China. It didn’t do much good, unfortunately. Asiansm Dan 222 years ago, the french peasants did exactly the same thing by appealing the sympathy of Marie-Antoinette (Queen of Louis XVI) by interrupting her travel and asked for food. She ignored them and even making fun of them because she couldn’t figure out how desperate were the french peasant situation. Not long after, she and her husband were heading for the Guillotine by the revolutionists. The situation in the US could be deteriorated faster than elsewhere because people own guns. So listen to them and make correction before they found out their cry unheard and more people join and they become more radical. Cynthia – Ummmmm . . . the amount of “trashing” the protestors have committed pales in comparison to that which the large corporations visit on our planet every single day. They are destructive beyond belief. Raven_Altosk Walk by the park they’ve taken over in Houston. It’s disgusting! They’ve left the place full of trash, human waste in buckets, and have started a “compost” pile in the middle of it! The noise of the hippie drums were bad, but now the smell is getting beyond offensive. Also, small businesses in the area are taking huge hits because people don’t want to walk through throngs of unwashed hippies. Even worse, these protesters are constantly using the restrooms of these businesses without being a customer. When told the restrooms were for customers only, they started standing out in front of the businesses and chasing away real customers. That’s not the way to get people on board with your cause… John Herrmann Protests in 1968 succeeded in eventually ending the Vietnam war. Well, North Vietnam helped some too. But the protests at the democratic convention in Chicago that year killed Humphrey’s chance at following LBJ as perhaps a far more liberal and moral leader and eased ol’ Tricky Dick Nixon into his second term. Sometimes crowds can be responsible for damages they never saw coming. Eric Some of what you say is true. Boycotting gas stations for a day is pointless because you’ll have to gas up before or after the fact. Deciding to take an alternate form of transport to your next vacation, however, is not the same. Because in this case, the demand vanishes rather than being moved around. I’m taking the auto-train to Florida in Feb. No TSA, no baggage fees, no rental car gotchas. By the time you figure in not having to rent a car for a week, it’s no more expensive than flying. Susakajo Chris, I usually agree with you but not this time. I frankly don’t want to get on a plane these days without going through security. I’ve gone through many patdowns for having the metal clasp on a bra strap beep going through the x-ray or due to “random selection” and it’s really no big deal unless you make it so. (there may be a few exceptions with some inspectors, as in all industries, but certainly not like it’s portrayed). A company has a right to reward its highest volume users. Airlines give “elite” status, Macy’s gives “Star” Rewards, you can punch a Starbucks card, etc. Traveling once in a while for leisure vs traveling constantly for business are very different matters. Business travelers have to endure so many excessively long days, and nights and evenings away from home that any little “perk” such as getting through security a little faster when rushing from one business city to the next or sometimes being upgraded to a seat in which you can actually open up the laptop to work on the plane can make all the difference. During our business startup, the “free” (hard-earned with our time) miles were well-used to help pay for more business travel. The airlines are constantly struggling with staying in business as it is. And while many of the wealthiest may use private jets, some of us rely on the airlines to do our business. Nevertheless, if you’re not being treated well by an airline — or any company for that matter — take your business elsewhere. http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry I’ve been horribly mistreated by the TSA. They sexually exploit young women, forcing them into machines that let men look through the womens’ clothes. They sexually abuse innocent travelers, touching people’s genitalia without permission or warning. They train children to be easy prey for child molesters. They train women to believe that our bodies are not our own; that authority figures can take whatever liberties they like with our bodies. I’d love, love to take my business elsewhere, and indeed I have drastically reduced my flying, from about 50 flights per year to a handful. But when government bullies are involved, there’s no option to take your business elsewhere. These TSA perverts are showing up at train stations, on buses, anywhere they can get their hands on someone’s ass against that person’s will. We need to disband TSA so that I can have a meaningful choice! Some people can fly with an airline that will sexually abuse them, and some people like that kind of thing. I’d be the one flying with an airline that conducts respectful metal detector searches and doesn’t treat me like I’m their porn star. http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry People have been voting with their travel dollars, in droves. The travel industry calls the past ten years “The Lost Decade” because while global travel is up more than 25%, U.S. travel hasn’t grown in ten years. Amtrak is carrying more passengers than it ever has. The Air Transport Association says airlines had only three profitable years of the last ten. Don’t think that your full flights mean demand is up, because the airlines have been slashing flights right and left to compensate for the growing number of Americans who are desperate to avoid the airport nightmare: “Domestic seat-capacity growth has lagged economic growth for the last two decades, and by the end of the year it will be at its lowest point relative to U.S. gross domestic production since 1979, according to data from the Air Transport Association.” I know I’ve driven thousands of miles and taken many overnight train trips to keep myself safe from the TSA’s abuse. Really Really? Fred I “A lot” and “all” are not the same you know. Of course it isn’t only the top 1% who fly and give airlines money. But chances are that a LOT more than 1% of the airlines income comes from the top 1%. Anyways, would both you and your husband be willing to boycott the airlines just to prove a point? And if you only want to protest one or two specific airlines or policies, then fine. That’s called consumer choice. Susan I find it hard to believe that the lack of passengers is due only or mostly to the TSA. Lower demand and higher prices probably account for the vast majority of the reduced air travel, as well as the recession the past 3 years or so. Robert “We should not feel like cattle going thru a shute to our slaughter.” Wait, what?? This sort of hyperbole gets nowhere as people find it hard to take you seriously. Not this again ಠ_ಠ Badbadbear Have you thought of counseling for your sexual issues? Lisa Richards She’s too busy telling the world about the story of her labia to do anything. Asiansm Dan Plausible. I must agreed. I live in Canada and most of the fare is lower by transiting via ORD, JFK, ATL, LAX… I don’t have any problem by having Global Entry and I always transiting by ORD or JFK. When I pointed out to my friends go UNITED which have the lowest fare to Asia, but most of them are ready to pay few more hundred of dollars for not transiting by the USA. Air Canada, EVA Air practice about 200$ to 500$ more expensive fare to Asia but their plane load factor are always high. Myself, in year 2000 and before, I travel twice a month, 4 times to Florida and twice to Honolulu per year. Now, I haven’t been in Honolulu since 2008, and the last time to Miami is 2006. And I discovered my beloved motels right on the beach at Fort Lauderdale which charged me 45$ a night with full kitchen were bulldozed. Carver I assume the auto train used gas. But you are correct. By changing your vacation to something that doesn’t enrich the so-called fat cats, might have a more substantial impact. Although I suspect its the same fry who suffers. David I’m not sure they are directed at Obama. The simple fact is that the ‘average’ American makes about 12% less then they did, in real terms, 30 years ago. And they’re being asked to pay more for health care, work longer hours, take pay cuts, take unpaid time off or have their meager social security slashed. This is all while the millionaires and billionaires are demanding tax cuts, want to destroy the public lands (and air and water) and generally act as untouchable because they have the politicians in their pockets. Is there any wonder that frustration is at a boiling point? Regardless of how you feel about Occupy, the these are the facts and they are not in dispute. But like the Kings of pre-Revolutionary France, the politicans and captains of industry are blind to the frustration of the average citizen. Let’s hope they wake up before they suffer (metaphorically, of course) the same fate. Bodega Protesting, boycotting is the American way, but does it work? The protests of the 60’s and 70’s did work, but often the means to the end were not pretty. We were talking lives in those protests. For travel, you have an option, so I voted no to this. I do believe that the best option is walking with your wallet, but let the carrier, hotel, rental car company, tour company know why. Badbadbear Yes, she does seem a tad obsessed with her labia. Thank God she didn’t use it as her profile pic !!! Brooklyn So very amusing, all of you. Dare we hope that you or your loved ones can have the special treat of being sexually assaulted so you can see how much fun it is? Maybe you could put it on YouTube so we can all enjoy. Until it’s happened to you, shut up. On second thought, shut up even if it has happened to you; not everyone’s reaction is the same, but that doesn’t give you the right to belittle someone’s suffering. Brooklyn Speak for yourself; it sounds good to me! Brooklyn That’s because the only legitimate protest is against your own government, not someone else’s. If you require all your causes to be clean and pretty, you won’t get very far. Protesting is like sex; if you do it right, it ain’t pretty. Brooklyn OK, you blame them for defecating in public and being unclean, but you also blame them for using nearby restrooms?! What would make you happy? If the authorities had any sense, they’d provide at least portapotties and extra trash cans. This isn’t going away any time soon, you know. James N How do you propose that change takes place then? (Not disagreeing with you, but at least something is happening with OWS, rather than the nothing that has been happening for many years) Robert Rich white people problems? Brooklyn Labia Labia Labia Labia Labia (Editor’s note: This comment was made by someone who is using the “Brooklyn” handle but it is not the same Brooklyn who normally comments here.) Mikedex It may not be officially the same as the Vancouver, Canada-based movement known as Occupy Wall Street, but similar protests have taken shape across Europe this weekend, with shows of solidarity in places as remote as Taipei, Taiwan and Rio de Janeiro. ButMadNNW Regarding the “we are the 53%” statement: http://www.alternet.org/occupywallst/152747/how_the_right’s_lame_attack_on_occupy_wall_st._shows_the_poverty_of_the_conservative_ideology Don’t believe the 53% spin. I am part of the 99%. But I’m also part of the “53%”, especially due to the cut taken from the freelance work I do outside my “regular” job. ButMadNNW Shoot. Hit “Like” when I meant to hit “Reply”. Downgrade that count by 1, please. “If you want to protest you have to do it for a sustained period of time.” Isn’t Occupy Wall Street in its 6th or 7th week? How “sustained” does the period of time need to be, I wonder? http://twitter.com/aarankell1 aarankell Yes, organize it is shortly or incredibly difficult for travelers. cjr001 “Sometimes crowds can be responsible for damages they never saw coming.” So, Americans should not exercise their right to free speech and protest because the desired result may not be perfect? Sorry, but I’m not buying this; this kind of view comes across as ‘know your place, peasant’ thinking. cjr001 Have you thought of counseling for your lack of sensitivity issues? cjr001 Maybe she should, Badbadbear. It’ll give you the chance to finally see one. http://browneknows.com/ Kathi Browne If I were to be a part of an “occupy airlines/travel industry” I would want the demonstration to have a message more clear than the folks’ on Wall Street. http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott In the interests of full transparency: We had someone apparently posing as another member on this exchange. I removed the post at the request of the person who was impersonated, as well as one follow-up comment. Folks, let’s try to use our real names or at least to stick to our handles in the comments. Thanks. Raven_Altosk I don’t see why the taxpayers should fund their portapotties. If they want to camp in a park, they need to pay for their own toilets. I also don’t see why local merchants should be expected to accommodate their “needs” when they aren’t paying customers. Personal responsibility. These protesters need to look into it. Tony A. Cynthia, thanks for posting the youtube link. Very informing. Nice. Linda Bator But enough voices at 99 cities around the WORLD (just today), seems to make an impact. Its not just us fed-up, its the entire world. When the average worker’s salary is 12% LESS than 30 years ago, but the average executive’s salary is 600% MORE, there is a huge problem! And one we need to address as a whole. Linda Bator Enough that today saw the same thing in 99 countries around the world! Its not just here anymore. Linda Bator True. But the original stance against big business runing our country (and other countries around the world) still reverberates strongly with most folks. Just that those with the time off don’t seem to realize the responsibility they have to the rest of us, as well. (Thos of us against the same issue, but NO uber-hippies! HAHA!) Linda Bator Since it started with Reagan, and was pushed forth with Bush I and II. Just another republican trying to re-write history! Brooklyn So all you care about is a pretty park with flowers? I feel sorry for you. I wonder where the original Boston Teaparty folks went to answer the call of nature. And the ones in Tianamen Square? And the “Arab Spring” protesters? These people are out there for all of us! Sylviaguarino It seems to me that some posters here are blurring the lines between the needy and the greedy. Sure, most of us are in worse shape than we were a few years ago. Additionally, most definitely a catastrophe could send our lives spiraling even further downward. But there are no guarantees in life for anyone. And, it’s all relative. Most people in the USA, even those deemed living at the poverty level, live a reasonably comfortable life. Before I (and many I know) get on the OWS even blurrier “bandwagon”, I would want to do something about these stats: http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats showing that HALF THE WORLD lives on $2.50 per day. Now if anyone should be protesting, it’s these truly poor people. But they are too busy trying to survive to take to the streets, and in many countries they would be beaten down if they did. These folks in OWS in NYC and other cities as well do not represent me or anyone I know when they demand (among other things) complete absolution from all college tuition debt. Who is going to pay for that? Not me, thank you. Daisymae So we don’t call it “Occupy.” We can call it anything we want. The point is that we need to oppose TSA abuse and corruption. We need to get TSA’s attention and get them to stop abusing innocent, law-abiding American citizens. So many people on this blog have said that protesting won’t work. What I want to know is how else can we get our message across to the greedy, power-hungry government that we want TSA out of our pants? Calling or writing our congressmen is pointless. They are totally wrapped up in pursuing their own power or financial kickbacks. Even if they agree that TSA needs to be abolished, they’re too afraid to be labelled as “soft on terror.” Their number one priority is to be reelected, so they won’t take that risk. Voting does no good either since, once again, they’re all either making a huge fortune out of this or they’re too afraid to take a stand. It doesn’t matter whether they are Dems or Reps….they’re all greedy and/or afraid. Voting in a new party just trades one set of thugs for another. So what else is left if we don’t demonstrate? How else do we get the federal government to back off and stop abusing us? Or do we simply resign ourselves to the fact that the constitution has become a sham, that there is no longer any protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and that the federal government can sexually assault/humiliate us any time any where they want? Martin As with all movements, it all comes down to the message. I understand why the Occupy Wall Street people are angry, but they’ve done such a horrible job articulating themselves, in the end I have no desire to be associated with them. The same can be said for some of the travel reform ideas I’ve seen. One example: A few months back I recall somebody on these forums suggesting a boycot of all hotels that don’t offer “free” wi-fi. Uh, okay. I’m supposed to patronize places with higher room rates because they don’t have a fee broken out on the bill for wi-fi, even though they’re clearly making it up for it with other charges? Or if I find a place where I can save on the room rate to cover their wi-fi charge, I should boycot them just on the principle? Sorry, but even if it is well-intentioned, an idea like that is just too simplistic for the real world. Raven_Altosk Wow, Brooklyn, way to derail. —-> THE POINT —-> YOU They are not out there for me when they’re “renaming” parks after cop killers or chanting anti-Semantic things. Or, you know, refusing to let a Civil Rights Era Hero speak. Because, according to the yahoos in Atlanta “No person is more important than another.” If they stuck with NO BAILOUTS and END INFLATED BONUSES, I’d be right out there with them. But…it’s turned into one giant cluster. Notice how most politicians won’t even use them? I mean, the GOP embraced the Tea Party (ew) but even them uber-liberals won’t do much with these people because some of their “demands” are whack. Martin Fuel boycots are the single dumbest idea ever conceived. Waiting until tomorrow to fill up only moves the time the gas companies get paid, it doesn’t cost them anything. It’s the equivalent of “boycotting” your mortgage company by sending in the payment a couple days late. A fuel boycot would need to include people giving up the use of their automobiles for an extended period of time to have any effect whatsoever. Individual companies can be boycotted successfully. But trying to boycot an entire industry that’s basically a necessity of life is next to impossible. Might as well try and boycot all the grocery stores. Martin The key difference between the examples you cite and the Occupy crowd is the presence of clear-cut objectives. Occupy Wall Street is such a mishmash of different ideologies they can’t even articulate what they want. And when you can’t articulate yourself, you end up looking like just a bunch of rabble-rousers. And it’s interesting that the modern Tea Party movement was able to have large rallies while providing their own facilities and going through the process of reserving the areas they used. I don’t really go along with what they sell, but I’ll give them many props for actually respecting the process. It’s costing these cities millions in extra costs to deal with these Occupy folks while they’re complaining there’s not enough money for all the things they want. And they honestly don’t seem to get that they’ve become a part of the problem. Sadie Cee I voted against “occupying the travel industry.” It is not that I am content with every feature of the industry, in fact there are horrors like the TSA that irk me almost beyond endurance. However, we have the power to vote with our wallets in most cases of clearly identified practices that offend and/or harm a large proportion of the travelling public. Boycotts that succeed in gaining wide support would be more powerful tools than occupations that have a great potential for violence. Now here’s an airline that I will likely boycott! :-) One of my siblings brought this to my attention. In flight, Air Canada is now charging $1 for a pillow and $2 for a blanket, payable by credit card only. I never use these amenities (a question of hygiene), but I find the insistence on payment by credit card only to be ridiculous. Their Web site merely states that “Pillow and blanket kits and high-quality earphones available for a nominal fee”. As for the TSA, all I can say is that the whole issue of terrorism *vis a vis* transportation security needs to be examined and evaluated anew. It is imperative that we have policies and practices that do not involve sexual assault and the degradation of human beings. As I see it, not much effort is required to harass and violate ordinary citizens who are in no position to make strenuous objections. However, does anyone know what is inside all those hundreds of thousands of containers that arrive at our seaports and sit on our docks for extended periods of time? cjr001 When you have to resort to impersonation, you’ve long since lost the argument. Brooklyn Um…anti-Semantic? So now you’re complaining because they’re (1) dirty; (2) using toilets (gasp!) in nearby restaurants; and (3) using bad grammar?? Brooklyn I agree that they need a platform, but most grass-roots protest movements start with a general expression of anger. After they get big enough, leaders emerge or the movement is “sponsored” by a politician or party that helps it set clear-cut goals. Give them a little time – there’s so much wrong with the economy that it’s not surprising if they can’t produce a shortlist yet. Dumping tea into Boston harbor wasn’t a calculated event with a clear-cut objective (or porta-potties), but the drafters of the Declaration of Independence were part of that same movement. And it’s a bit hypocritical to ask the protesters to work within a process that was devised by the very society they want to reform: you need a permit to demonstrate, but then they put you in some out-of-the-way place where no one will see you and tell you exactly how long you can be there…or they deny you the permit! No, these people need to get their act together, but they don’t need to follow the nice little rules designed to minimize their impact until they go away. Daisymae But how do we get the government to institute “policies and practices that do not involve sexual assault and the degradation of human beings?” TSA has no intention of changes its tactics. Congress has no intention of enforcing any kind of control over TSA. The Courts have no intention of interfering with TSA. So my question again is how do we get TSA to stop assaulting and abusing innocent Americans? It seems to me like protesting is the only thing we have left. Raven_Altosk Obviously that should’ve been anti-semitic, but that my phone autocorrected it. And before you bury your head in the sand, here are two instances caught on tape: http://dailycaller.com/2011/10/07/anti-semitism-at-occupy-wall-street/ http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/10/la-unified-fires-substitute-teacher-after-alleged-anti-semitic-remarks.html Not using toilets–but refusing to be CUSTOMERS. Since when does a restaurant have to allow everyone off the street to use their restroom? Oh, only when Occupy shows up because despite the $300K they have in the bank they’re too cheap to rent portajohns. Otherwise, they’re blackmailed by hippies in drum circles congregating outside their place of business. Jennifer It’s an interesting idea, but I don’t think protesting the travel industry will work in the long run. Unfortunately, travelers are stuck between corporations that want to maximize their profits and a security system that unfortunately keeps being tested and doesn’t pass. Unless corporations are willing to give up some of their profits and terrorists give up on trying to bring explosive materials and take hostages on mass transportation, there is next to nothing the public can do-there will always be a customer willing to pay the extra charge or a completely uncaring terrorist willing to destroy lives. Mayra Enquist The similarities between a travel boycott and JFK ordering a lifetime of Cuban cigars right before imposing the Cuban trade embargo nearly 50 years ago are uncanning! There is so much hypocrisy here, I just don’t know where to begin! The so called haves not (with their iPads and iPhones,) spewing their Communist Manifesto, expectedly won’t accuse the guilty party/ies, as they conveniently bypassed George Soros’ home on their way to Rupert Murdoch’s! I’m also sick and tired of this “Flea” Party being equated to the Tea Party. When we protested in DC, we had a cohesive message which resulted in the 2010 election, left the venues cleaner than we found them, made a much-needed contribution towards the anemic economy by lodging in hotels, dining in restaurants and visiting the numerous sights. My cat is cleaner than these parasites! And this “Occupy” word is loosely used; there is always a fee when something is “occupied!” Time to start charging “occupier’s” rent! November 2012 can’t come soon enough! Mayra Enquist The similarities between a travel boycott and JFK ordering a lifetime of Cuban cigars right before imposing the Cuban trade embargo nearly 50 years ago are uncanning! There is so much hypocrisy here, I just don’t know where to begin! The so called haves not (with their iPads and iPhones,) spewing their Communist Manifesto, expectedly won’t accuse the guilty party/ies, as they conveniently bypassed George Soros’ home on their way to Rupert Murdoch’s! I’m also sick and tired of this “Flea” Party being equated to the Tea Party. When we protested in DC, we had a cohesive message which resulted in the 2010 election, left the venues cleaner than we found them, made a much-needed contribution towards the anemic economy by lodging in hotels, dining in restaurants and visiting the numerous sights. My cat is cleaner than these parasites! And this “Occupy” word is loosely used; there is always a fee when something is “occupied!” Time to start charging “occupier’s” rent! November 2012 can’t come soon enough! Dude We can’t change the world until we’re ready to stand up against the inequality, as a group.Is that time now?Yes, but I don’t think an occupy travel event is workable or impactful. But I think concerted consumer action against corporations where we have an alternative is a good idea. Daisymae How do we make concerted consumer action against TSA? Currently, there is no alternative to TSA. Patrick Would someone do a Freedom of Information Act request to the TSA and follow through in court so we can see what exactly is found on nefarious travelers such as demanding a grandmother show them her diaper? Next step is any rudeness by airline employees is noted and reported to the CEO of the airline. Take Amtrak as much as possible and tell your usual airline why you’ve done that. Think about figuring out who are on the board of trustees of an airline and be sure they are sent copies of the complaints. Be proactive consumers. My unhappiness with corporate America and Europe is the huge salaries paid to CEO’s, CFO’s, etc. Performance based pay by stock options only and none of the moving product production off shore or corporate offices to the Cayman Islands (wink, wink). Treating company heads like royalty is nonsense. Boards will say they have to pay to get the best. Fine let the best earn their pay. Golden parachutes are unbelievable. Think Carly what’s-her-face at HP. They paid her enormous sums to leave. Average people and a few like Steve Jobs, may he rest in peace, and Warren Buffett understand this and act accordingly. Sadie Cee I regret that I don’t have an answer to your question. The point I tried to make was that re the TSA, the current security inspection measures are unacceptable and need to be rethought. I am skeptical about “Occupation” as an effective form of protest in regard to the TSA. I could be wrong. What I am pinning my hopes on is that good moral sense and sanity will prevail. The result would be that TPTB (the powers that be) decide to institute a system that is respectful of our humanity and civil rights. It will take just ONE good woman or man of resolve in the corridors of power to spearhead this reformation.