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Rules in the sky

The US House of Representatives has taken a good step in approving a consumer-protection proposal for airline passengers. The Senate should pass the measure and the President sign it.

The bill is needed because the Civil Aeronautics Board will be disbanded on Dec. 31. Its protective regulations will go out of existence unless legislation is enacted to give another federal department the responsibility to look after the interests of airplane passengers. This is what the House-passed bill would do.

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Among other provisions, the measure would authorize the Department of Transportation to make regulations in several aspects of the CAB's current activities, including smoking, lost baggage liability, and overbooking.

It would be regrettable if the gains of recent years in these areas were to be lost at year's end. It also would be unnecessary. Sufficient time still exists for Senate action and a presidential signature.

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