David M. Brown's Blog

September 6, 2012

Do we have a “right to fly,” or is it only a “privilege”?

Filed under: News — davidmbrowndotcom @ 10:37 pm

This post is occasioned by a piece in the Times that repeats the oft-heard contention that persons have no “right to fly.” If we don’t have a right to fly once we have purchased that right, what rights do we have?

Persons don’t have a “right to fly” only in the following sense: we don’t have a claim to the resources of an airline which declines to sell that service to us. But we certainly do have a “right to fly” in the sense that we have a right to make a contractual arrangement to fly with an airline that agrees to make an arrangement with us.

What happens is that the airline flies us somewhere in exchange for our purchasing a ticket; we have a right, first, to make that deal and, then, a contractual right to fly (or, perhaps, to a refund in the case of “acts of God”). If government arbitrarily interferes with our freedom to make an agreement with an airline, and with the airline’s obligation to abide by its part of the agreement, of course the government is then violating our freedom and violating an actual right. If that were not the case, our right to freedom would be meaningless. We would have no specific right to do anything whatever.

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