The BLG Blog

Posts & articles that have helped thousands build performance through pragmatic leadership.

Coalitions in Flight

Few people hate uncertainty more than airline passengers. Tossed into a hectic airport jungle, passengers scurry through security checkpoints, frenetically swarm airline gates, and compulsively check flight statuses. Inevitably something goes wrong. A flight is delayed due to caterpillar infestation; a suitcase is rerouted to Andorra; a flight attendant delivers a whiskey sour to a precocious toddler.

Kate Hanni, one disgruntled passenger, created the Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights in January 2007 in an effort to reduce the uncertainty in this pressure cooker environment. Hanni discovered that mobilizing an agenda to improve airline treatment of passengers required the broad, collaborative work of like likeminded travelers. Without their support, her complaints would fall on deaf airline executive ears and she would lose the opportunity to document injustices throughout the flight system.

With over 25,000 members, she was able to stage a diversified campaign featuring a “strand-in” outside the Capitol and a coordinated offensive against horizontal and vertical levels of the airline industry. While the coalition’s centerpiece Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights remains stalled in Congress, Hanni’s efforts of diversification have reduced uncertainty for passengers by inducing airlines to make remedial changes. This progress would be impossible in the erratic world of legislative lobbying without Hanni’s broad coalition of passengers. With any luck airline delays will surpass Congressional delays and Hanni and her passengers will be boarding flights with more confidence and certainty.

Hanni illustrates here the ability for grassroots coalitions to effect change on a macro level. We often view coalitions as an empty business buzzword that holds little significance outside of the context of a fictional, made-for-TV boardroom. We forget that mobilizing coalitions, a fundamental micro-skill of leadership, has broad efficacy in addressing everyday problems in our lives. While we may view something as inane as a delayed flight or a supermarket’s decision to stop carrying organic carrots as an unavoidable, nuisance, Hanni reminds us that collective action toward a shared end can produce real results. So put down your complaint cards, mobilizing a group of like-minded individuals, and form a coalition.



About BLG

Whether you want BLG to deliver a complete leadership academy across your organization, focus on a key group, or supplement an ongoing program, the primary goal of any of our programs will be business impact.

Recent Posts


Sign up for our Newsletter