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The Not So Friendly Skies

Even the infrequent flyers know it well, the luggage and the loathing. It is a world of running late and lower expectations, CBS News Correspondent Bob McNamara reports.

"If you're on a three-hour flight, I think you expect a little more than peanuts," said one disgruntled airline passenger.

And on Thursday, the fact that Delta Airlines began serving snacks instead of sandwiches to cut lunch costs only added to the outrage. It's that kind of high-flying unhappiness that prompted two U.S. senators to introduce a passenger rights bills.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have written a bill that would give new rights to airline passengers, such as allowing them 48 hours to cancel tickets that are currently nonrefundable.

The bill would also require airlines to explain why flights are delayed and tell frequent fliers how many seats are available if they want to cash in their miles.

"Passengers ought to have the right to adequate information about fares. We think they should be protected from arbitrary actions like being cancelled at the last minute," Wyden said.

Whoever said getting there is half the fun wasn't stranded by the Northwest Airlines pilots strike last summer.

They weren't in snowy Detroit last month either, stuck in a Northwest debacle that saw 5,000 passengers sit on 29 planes for up to eight hours, only to have their flights delayed for days.

"I'll never fly Northwest again. Never," one woman firmly declared.

This year, more than 500 million travelers will again crowd America's airports and its airplanes.

"You feel more like cattle and less like people," complained a passenger.

But industry experts say a passenger rights bill will be tough to police.

"What can they do? Throw 'em in jail or fine 'em $500 for being rude? It's gonna be very hard to enforce," said Harold Salven of the International Airline Passengers Association.

Once flying was the only way to go, but for many today, it's become the hassle between point "a" and point "b."

©1999 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report