Travel writers have been critical of the airlines and have extolled the benefits of the "passenger bill of rights," but airline employees who have direct customer-service contact deserve protection too ["21 Days, 18 Flights," Business, July 13].

Passengers often check their brains with their bags at the curb. They are rude to airline agents, threaten agents and refuse to listen.

Airline employees are passengers too. They experience many of the same problems when traveling with their families. They try to provide honest and timely information. However, when a plane is on an air-traffic-control hold because of thunderstorms, they can give only an estimate of when the weather will clear and the plane will be released. This isn't enough for many passengers.

Passengers need to realize that many factors affect whether a plane departs. When it's a weather or air-traffic-control problem, maybe the passenger should contact some higher authority.

Reasonable airfares have brought record numbers of passengers into airports that are ill-equipped to handle them. Before blaming the airlines, look at where some of the blame lies -- with the government, poor airports and air-traffic control.

Let's have a passenger rights bill, but it should include that if a passenger is rude, swears or threatens an airline employee, the passenger will forfeit the ticket and face prosecution. Passengers should be held accountable too.

D. M. MARLOW

Fairfax