Some people are choosing driving than flying...
It did not take the latest string of viral videos to convince Cynthia O’Leary. There was no need to see the near-riot at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport or the passengers brawling on a flight at Burbank Bob Hope Airport.

She's done flying, at least for now.

“We're driving,” says O’Leary, a software developer from Tampa.

Jeff Kolker is finished with air travel, too.

“I'm not flying this year,” says Kolker, an accountant from Pryor, Oklahoma. He's planning trips to Montreal and Halifax, Nova Scotia, this year.

In case you missed those clips, here's a recap: A passenger aboard a Southwest Airlines flight from Dallas, bound for Oakland, California, recently came to blows with another traveller during a stopover in Burbank and was later arrested.

A few days later, a brawl erupted between passengers and sheriff's deputies after Spirit Airlines cancelled nine flights in the wake of a labour dispute.

Then a video emerged of a family being kicked off a JetBlue flight in a dispute over a birthday cake.

The incidents follow the forcible removal of David Dao from a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville, in April, also captured on video.

That led to congressional hearings and promises by airline executives to “do better”. It also made travellers like O’Leary swear off air travel - especially on United Airlines, which she says is on her personal blacklist.

But these latest kerfuffles are raising new questions: Will anything change? What, if anything, can passengers do - besides drive - as they face one of the most uncertain periods for air travel in more than a decade?

“The frustration of passengers is reaching a breaking point,” says Theresa Skarsten, a small business owner from Bend, Oregon, and a frequent flier.

“The airlines only care about profits, not customer service. They're cramming us into smaller seating, flights are late and the excuse is usually maintenance.”

Experts say the frustration is real, but change isn't easy.

“While I think all of us who travel would love to believe this is a tipping point in the relationship between passengers and the airlines, it simply is not true,” says Catharine Curran, an associate professor at the Charlton College of Business in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts. “Superficial changes will be made.”

Some consumer advocates hope they can use the momentum generated by the outrage to put the force of law behind the voluntary measures now being adopted by airlines.

Flyers Rights, a passenger advocacy group, has sought to persuade lawmakers to enact tough laws that would effectively suspend overselling of airline seats, stop airlines from denying boarding to ticketed passengers and loosen federal laws that make disobeying the flight crew a felony, among other steps.

“It is obvious that airline passenger mistreatment is not isolated and will not be solved by relying on airline promises or voluntary policies,” says Flyers Rights president Paul Hudson.

Any proposed rules are likely to be saved for the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorisation Act. - The Washington Post