>>>Before going screaming to the authorities, maybe you should talk to the airline involved.
Some situations like this (including potential UN-necessary calls to regulatory authorities) can be avoided if the crew just makes a short/simple little PA to the passengers. Something to the effect of "some of you mave a noticed xxxx, it's OK
to go without it per XXXX, and safety is not compromised, etc. etc." I wouldn't expect a crew to do this for just -any- item CDL'd, just big items that are viewable from the passenger cabin. (Not static wicks, etc.)
I know of one pilot who once had a thrust reverser actuator fairing removed (inboard side, 737-200) and when a passneger in the back questioned it to a F/A, and the F/A brought him upfront. The captain came out of the cockpit, heard the man's concerns, and went back into the cockpit. He came right back out with his MEL
/CDL book, and showed the man where it was in the book, i.e. that contingencies had been covered, hence its inclusion in the book, and that they were safe and legal to go with the fairing removed, which satisfied the passenger. The captain then made a short PA (since everyone in the front part of the aircraft wondered what the heck was going on), and explained that a passenger had a question that he'd just successfully answered, and that they'd be departing momentarily.
Their is sometimes great danger in ASSUMING things one does not know about; ohers might argue otherwise, and that passengers should always assume the worst. It comes down to a matter of trust.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.