Luntz: Protect Paying Frequent Fliers

The political message man wants a law to force airlines to protect seats until takeoff.

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By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

Add political message-man Frank Luntz to the list of those who shout, "There ought to be a law." His target: US Airways. Luntz regularly logs about 300,000 miles a year helping candidates like Rudy Giuliani and Fortune 500 companies craft their sales pitch.

On the day after last month's elections, Luntz had a first-class seat on a flight from Richmond, Va., to New York to meet up with media mogul James Murdoch, Rupert's son and CEO of News Corporation. But arriving at the gate with 16 minutes to spare, he was told his seat was given to a standby passenger.

So he's now lobbying for a law to force airlines to protect the seats of paying customers until takeoff. Says Luntz: "What good is it to fly US Air more than 75,000 miles a year, pay top dollar for a ticket, and arrive well before departure—only to have them deny you the seat you paid for? I think there ought to be a law against that."

US Air, Luntz tells us, had promised to make things good with him. But he just updated this story, telling us that the airline's investigation found that he was late, arriving after the 15-minute cut-off time. Luntz says, however, he made it with a minute to spare. "I know the rules," he says.

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