Thanks a lot, Brussels!
If you wonder why so many people have such a distaste for Bonkers of Brussels, the bureaucrats who just can't stop, then consider the latest example of control-freak madness.
The European Commission had proposed that airlines should pay compensation of £500 to each passenger who is bumped off a short-haul flight (the fee would be twice that for long-haul).
The European parliament, invited to approve this barmy business, yesterday voted to trim the payments to £130 and £400, although it could not resist another little complication, of a payment of £160 for "medium-haul" flights. This was heralded by the parliamentary spinners as a great blow for common sense.
Well, perhaps it is, by their own strange definitions, but it's not clear why the European Union should get involved in this at all, beyond insisting that everyone with a valid ticket should have the right to fly.
Airlines routinely overbook their flights, confident that not everyone will show up. If too many people do get to the gate, the airline offers an incentive sufficient to persuade enough passengers to postpone flying.
The problem is thus solved by market forces. Such agreements between consenting adults so infuriate the regulators that there are already petty rules about compensation.
The new scale will be much more expensive for the operators, with the result that fewer planes will take off full, as no-shows will mean empty seats.
Worse still, the payments extend to cancelled flights. The regulations are supposed to excuse the airlines from payment when the cancellation is not their fault, but in real life there will be plenty of scope for argument (and more bureaucracy).
No wonder the discount airlines were spitting fan blades yesterday; between them, they have opened up Europe to millions who would not otherwise be able to do what MEPs and bureaucrats take for granted. Thanks to our Brussels masters, those silly prices are going to become a fond memory.