For travelers, it’s been a lifetime goal to never feel guilty when flying — or rather, it’s been a long time coming, and it finally seems to be finally coming true. Why are air travel policies changing so much? Honestly, nothing’s really been changing, but the latest changes are all focused on the attitude of the customer, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Hotels and airlines are doing away with do-not-resuscitate orders (DFRs), requiring patients to give consent before a doctor can perform a form of life-supporting aid such as a heart-lung-spinal machine. Since the new laws, patients can no longer be punished for withdrawing such measures, making their refusal to cooperate with such treatment just as much a defense as the doctor’s refusal to change course.
All this change might sound like a good thing. DNRs have long been decried as inequitable as they permit hospitals to dictate the treatment to dependents of paying patients, and lawyers have used them to charge consumers for the burden of care. But changing the law could also result in an unintended consequence: that hospital and doctor disciplinary boards will have a harder time holding hospitals accountable for failing to care for the dying.
But healthcare companies are especially sensitive to backlash over DNRs, and airlines too. According to recent reports, one DNR change could have unintended consequences: It has spawned new rules for consultants at the airport who examine passengers’ mental and physical health in the early stages of a terminal illness, as well as make decisions about whether to board an airplane.
Those who are not undergoing treatment are apparently not worth such scrutiny. It’s a delicate topic, and it’s worrisome that it could be extended to such a wide range of passengers—including those who are not ill. We still don’t have a clear direction on this. These laws could be interpreted in a number of ways, and yet the implications are simply too worrisome to ignore. Are there worse things we could be doing to ourselves?
In the meantime, you might be relieved to know that all you have to do to enjoy guilt-free flights is take a deep breath when you get on them. You might also have to endure extreme turbulence.