Christopher Elliot  writes on MSNBC about some of the things airlines used to do, that made traveling easier and, well, nicer for passengers. One of these now gone traditions is the ‘flat tire rule.’  This meant that if something happened to a passenger that was out of their control and they missed their flight, they could rebook on a later flight at no charge. Elliot cites an example of a woman who had to wait in a very long line for an American flight and finally missed her flight due to the wait.  Tough luck, they said, making her pay $2600 for a ticket the next day.

The Flat Tire rule says Elliot, “formalizes a double standard. Passengers are supposed to give airlines a break if there’s bad weather or a mechanical delay, so the same was once afforded passengers. You miss the flight for a reasonable reason, hey, no problem take the next one. Southwest still has such a rule, although it is somewhat more informal. An SWA spokesman said that they “empower their employees to handle each situation on a case-by-case basis,’ meaning it’s ambiguous enough for some flexibility.

Another rule has to do with rental cars and how late you can return them. A few years ago a one hour grace period was cut to just a half hour, and in some cases, closed entirely. Elliot argues, quite reasonably, the same way…we cut the rental companies a break if the only cars left are gas guzzling SUVs or too-small econoboxes and often wait in long lines to rent…so shouldn’t they give us the same sort of a break?